Sunday 18 August 2019

Libyan strongman urges troops to march on Tripoli as UN boss pleads for talks

Antonio Guterres was visiting the capital before Khalifa Hifter urges his forces to advance.

The flag of the Libyan Republic (Sean Dempsey/PA)
The flag of the Libyan Republic (Sean Dempsey/PA)

By Rami Musa, Associated Press

Libyan army commander Khalifa Hifter has ordered his forces to march to Tripoli, the capital of the UN-backed government.

General Hifter, who commands the so-called Libya National Army based in the east, described his forces’ move as a “victorious march” to “shake the lands under the feet of the unjust bunch”.

In an online audio recording, he ordered forces not to open fire on any civilians saying: “Whoever raises the white banner is safe.”

His forces have taken over the town of Gharyan, 31 miles from Tripoli.

Gen Hifter’s comments came as the head of the UN said he was worried about a major armed showdown in Libya and is urging warring factions to instead turn to dialogue.

Gharyan is the closest to Tripoli that Gen Hifter’s fighters have reached in their campaign westwards from the country’s east.

Mr Guterres posted on Twitter earlier on Thursday that he is “deeply concerned by the military movement taking place in Libya and the risk of confrontation”.

He added: “There is no military solution. Only intra-Libyan dialogue can solve Libyan problems.”

Mr Guterres arrived in Libya on Wednesday, becoming the first UN chief to visit since the 2011 uprising that toppled and later killed long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

PA Media

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