Worldwide community warns Haftar against Tripoli attack

Worldwide community warns Haftar against Tripoli attack

Forces loyal to one of Libya's competing authorities said they had seized control of the main airport in Libya's capital Tripoli on Saturday, two days after their commander ordered his forces to seize the seat of Libya's UN-backed government.

Pro-government forces in Tripoli confirmed they had targeted Haftar's men with "intensive strikes".

Fighting is also underway near a key airport outside the city.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Saturday called on all sides in the conflict to refrain from using military force, including warplanes, and seek a peaceful resolution of their differences.

On Saturday, the head of the GNA accused Haftar of "betraying" him after the latter launched his military offensive on Tripoli.

Dozens of militia have proliferated in Libya since the NATO-backed 2011 overthrow of dictator Muamer Gaddafi and are variously aligned with either the unity government or the rival administration in the east backed by Haftar.

Vowing to "cleanse" the country of militants, Haftar's forces pushed hardline militias out of the eastern city of Benghazi in 2017 after a deadly three-year battle dubbed "Operation Dignity".

Speaking at a news conference in Tripoli, he said he was striving to prevent the new crisis from getting out of control. "The safety of migrants in detention is especially concerning should there be an escalation in military action", the IOM said.

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He also put at risk upcoming peace talks between Libyan rivals brokered by the United Nations and aimed at drawing a roadmap for new elections.

There were no reports of significant fighting on Saturday.

Libyan authorities earlier declared a state of emergency following the announcement of the Libyan National Army that its forces have started advancing towards Tripoli. "I still hope it is possible to avoid a bloody confrontation in and around Tripoli", he said on Twitter.

The air strikes came as fresh fighting flared Saturday south of Tripoli between the pro-government forces and Haftar's troops despite calls from the worldwide community to halt the military offensive.

Al-Qunidi stressed that Saudi Arabia gave Haftar the green light for his attack and supplied him with money in order to take over the west Libya.

The UN-backed government controlled around seven percent of the country at the time his offensive began on Tuesday.

Last-ditch appeals are being made to persuade Khalifa Haftar to step back from the brink of an all-out attack on Tripoli, Libya's capital, after the United Nations security council warned him to halt all military manoeuvres and said those threatening military solutions will face consequences.

In December, Gen Haftar met Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj from the UN-backed government at a conference but refused to attend official talks. Haftar has recently seized much of southern Libya without fighting.

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