220 killed in battles for Libya’s capital last 2 weeks

Saul Bowman
April 24, 2019

The military commander backs a rival administration based in eastern Libya that refuses to recognise the authority of the Tripoli government. Both countries flew air strikes on Tripoli in 2014 during a different conflict to help a Haftar-allied force, U.S. officials said at the time.

The fighting, which has raised fears of a worsening conflict in Libya, began after the commander of the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), Khalifa Haftar, ordered his forces to seize Tripoli from a rival government backed by the United Nations on April 4.

In a sharp reversal of longstanding USA policy which recognizes only the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli as the legitimate authority over Libya, the White House on Friday said President Trump spoke by phone this week to Benghazi based commander Khalifa Haftar, pledging support to the general and his Libyan National Army (LNA) as it lays siege to the capital.

Libya has been struggling to make a democratic transition amid insecurity and chaos ever since the fall of former leader Muammar Gaddafi's regime in 2011.

He said the failure to support his internationally recognised government could "lead to other consequences", citing the risk of Islamic State capitalising on the instability.

Earlier Tripoli residents reported that explosions shook the capital late on Saturday following an airstrike.

The US and Russian Federation declined on Thursday to support a UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Libya.

He also lauded President Donald Trump's call to Hifter last week expressing USA support for the Libyan commander's perceived stance against terrorism and Hifter's role in "securing Libya's oil resources".

More than 25,000 have been displaced, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Soldiers loyal to Gen Khalifa Haftar launched an attack earlier this month with the aim of taking Tripoli.

"The powers that support terrorism in Libya are France, Russia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE", said Abdelrizaq Musherib, a protester.

On Friday, two children were killed in shelling in southern Tripoli, residents said.

The French embassy in Libya tweeted in Arabic on Friday that Paris was "opposed to the attack" on Tripoli.

The U.N. health agency says at least 34 more people have died in fighting for control of Libya's capital over the past two days, bringing the total to 254 dead so far, including civilians.

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