Over 120 Dead as Haftar Forces Push for Tripoli
News ID: 64828
Date: 14 April 2019 - 21:37
CAIRO (AP) — More than 120 people have been killed since a Libyan military commander launched an assault on the capital 10 days ago, igniting clashes with rival militias, the UN health agency said Sunday.
The self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, launched a surprise offensive against Tripoli on April 5 and is battling rival militias loosely affiliated with a weak Western-backed government.
The World Health Organization said 121 people have been killed in the fighting and another 561 have been wounded. It did not specify whether they were fighters or civilians.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said more than 13,500 people have been displaced, and that "significant numbers of civilians” remain stuck in areas where the fighting has escalated.
Haftar has led previous campaigns against militants and other rivals in eastern Libya, and has received support from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Russia and France.
Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi met with Haftar in Cairo on Sunday, the presidency said, without providing further details.
The head of the country's self-proclaimed eastern parliament said Haftar’s forces were set to move in on Tripoli Sunday.
On Saturday, an air raid by Haftar's forces hit the yard of a school on the southern outskirts of Tripoli.
In a possible new front, the eastern Libya National Army (LNA) was readying a unit to move to the Es Sider and Ras Lanuf oil ports, Libya's biggest, on the eastern coast, anticipating an attack from an armed group allied to Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj, eastern military officials said.
The LNA's push into Tripoli is the latest outbreak of a cycle of conflict since the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi. It has continued despite international calls for a halt in an offensive that risks causing many civilian casualties.
Last week the European Union called on the LNA to stop its attacks, having agreed on a statement after France and Italy sparred over how to handle the conflict.
As well as the humanitarian cost, the conflict threatens to disrupt oil supplies, boost migration to Europe, scupper a UN peace plan, and allow armed groups to exploit the chaos.
Haftar, 75, a former general in Gaddafi's army who later joined the revolt against him, moved his troops out of their eastern stronghold to take the oil-rich desert south earlier this year, before sweeping up to Tripoli at the start of April.