Sunday 15 September 2019

Rebels step up their assault on Tripoli

Libya has been divided between various armed groups since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Photo: REUTERS
Libya has been divided between various armed groups since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Photo: REUTERS

Roland Oliphant in London

Fighting has flared in the suburbs of Tripoli as Gen Khalifa Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) intensified its assault, despite a UN appeal for a ceasefire.

An "urgent" two-hour truce was sought to allow the evacuation of civilians and the wounded from southern parts of the capital, where troops loyal to the internationally recognised government of national accord were battling to halt the LNA assault.

But the violence saw no sign of abating yesterday, with Gen Haftar's forces launching at least one air strike. Witnesses reported hearing rockets firing to the south of the city.

It was the LNA's first use of air power in the battle and followed pro-government air raids on Saturday.

Clashes were concentrated in Wadi Raba, a farming area, and the disused international airport, south of the capital. Gen Haftar's forces claim to have seized the airport.

Col Mohamed Gnounou, a spokesman for pro-government forces, said a counter-­offensive had been launched to push Gen Haftar back.

Pro-government forces have been reinforced by powerful militia groups from the north-western cities of Misrata, Zintan and Zawiya. The health ministry said at least 21 people were killed and 27 wounded in the fighting.

Libya has been divided between various armed groups since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Irish Independent

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