Libya crisis: General Haftar tells forces to take capital

Arturo Kim
April 7, 2019

Forces loyal to the Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar continued their advance into the country's capital and largest city Tripoli, the seat of the internationally-recognized and United Nations -backed government, despite calls from the global community urging for dialogue and threating sanctions.

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

The evacuation came as Field Marshal Haftar's offensive entered its fourth day, with units of his Libyan National Army fighting Tripoli militias in the city's southern suburbs.

Speaking in Egypt, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov warned against what he called foreign meddling in Libya, while Egypt's foreign minister Sameh Shoukry said Libya's problems could not be solved by military means.

On Friday Haftar's spokesman said the offensive would only end once Tripoli fell.

Fierce clashes erupted Sunday between East Libya-based forces and government troops on the outskirts of the Libyan capital Tripoli.

AFRICOM's concern over the "evolving security situation" comes amid an offensive by the renegade general, Khalifa Hifter, whose forces are making an attack on the Libya capital of Tripoli. "The safety of migrants in detention is especially concerning should there be an escalation in military action", the IOM said.

"Fighting is still ongoing on in Qasr bin Ghashir area near Tripoli", Bashaga said.

Reporting from the French coastal city of Dinard, where G7 foreign ministers were meeting to prepare for a grouping summit in August, FRANCE 24's Robert Parsons said there appeared to be unity amongst the global community on the need to make sure Haftar "toes the line".

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Meanwhile, Haftar has declared a no-fly-zone over the western half of Libya while government air power has been striking Haftar's forces, albeit those sorties seem to have done little to slow his forces' advance into Tripoli.

Pro-GNA reinforcements from around Tripoli rushed to assist in driving back his forces.

In December, Gen Haftar met Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj from the UN-backed government at a conference but refused to attend official talks.

The development came as United Nations chief Antonio Guterres met Haftar in failed talks and left Libya with a "heavy heart".

Haftar on Thursday ordered his troops to advance on the capital.

It came as U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres departed after meeting Haftar to try to avert civil war.

"I still hope it is possible to avoid a bloody confrontation in and around Tripoli", Guterres tweeted.

A G7 communique said that "we recall that Libya's oil facilities, production, and revenues belong to the Libyan people, and must not be used by any party for political gain".

Still, American forces and diplomatic staff have continued to work in Libya with a special focus on helping the UN-backed government maintain its rickety grip on portions of the country.

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