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700,000 displaced in Libya conflict — UN

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The United Nations on Wednesday said nearly 70,000 people had been displaced as a result of clashes in and around Tripoli, the Libyan capital.

UN spokesman, Mr Staphane Dujarric, quoted the report released by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), as saying that 100,000 others were “thought to remain in the front‑line areas amid deteriorating conditions”. 

“Some 3,300 refugees and migrants are trapped in detention centres that are already exposed to or are in close proximity to fighting. 

“Access to food, water and health care is severely restricted at these facilities as a result of the conflict,” Dujarric said.

Libya has been in turmoil since the death of its longtime leader, Col. Muammar Gaddafi in the popular Arab spring of 2011.

Fighting has been raging since Khalifa Haftar, a military commander based in eastern Libya, launched an offensive to take control of Tripoli from the UN-support unity government on April 3.

The UN has been calling for a cease-fire in the conflict that has killed at least 400 people so far.

Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), an ally of a parallel administration based in Benghazi, has refused to recognise Tripoli government.

“We are worried about the dramatically deteriorating humanitarian situation in Tripoli,” a statement on the IOM’s website quoted Othman Belbeisi, its head of mission in Libya as saying.

“The situation is especially alarming for over 3,300 migrants, among them children and pregnant women.

“We reiterate that there is an urgent need to end the detention of migrants in Libya and stop displacement.

“While our teams on the ground continue to provide emergency humanitarian assistance to conflict-affected populations, we recognise that more needs to be done from all sides to ensure the safety of civilians.”

(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)

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UN Security Council extends authorization of measures to implement arms embargo on Libya

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The UN Security Council on Friday adopted a resolution to extend the measures designed to implement an arms embargo on Libya for a further 12 months from the date of the adoption of this resolution.

Resolution 2526, which was approved unanimously by the 15-member council, extends the authorizations for UN member states to inspect, on the high seas off the coast of Libya, vessels coming from or to the country if they have reasonable grounds to believe the vessels are carrying arms or related materials in violation of an arms embargo imposed by the Security Council.

Resolution 2526 also requests the UN secretary-general to report to the Security Council within 11 months of the adoption of the resolution on its implementation.

The Security Council imposed sanctions, including an arms embargo, on Libya in 2011 after the political turmoil that led to the toppling of former leader Muammar Gaddafi. In June 2016, the council adopted Resolution 2292 to authorize vessel inspections on the high seas to implement the arms embargo. The authorizations have been extended several times.

(XINHUA)

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UN voices concern over continued fighting in Libya

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The United Nations on Friday voiced concern about the continued fighting in Libya, particularly its impact on civilians.

“We are following extremely closely the rapid developments on the ground in Libya as the fighting is continuing,” said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “Our concern remains with the impact of the continued violence on civilians, as well as the knock-on impact forcing further displacements of the civilian population.”

Fighters of the UN-backed Libyan government’s forces are seen in the Qasr bin Ghashir area, southern Tripoli, Libya, on June 4, 2020. The spokesman of the UN-backed Libyan government’s forces, Mohamed Gonono, on Thursday announced taking over the entire capital Tripoli and expelling the rival eastern-based army. (Photo by Hamza Turkia/Xinhua)

Fighters of the UN-backed Libyan government’s forces are seen in the Qasr bin Ghashir area, southern Tripoli, Libya, on June 4, 2020. The spokesman of the UN-backed Libyan government’s forces, Mohamed Gonono, on Thursday announced taking over the entire capital Tripoli and expelling the rival eastern-based army. (Photo by Hamza Turkia/Xinhua)

The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) calls on all the parties to de-escalate and to curb incitement and the use of hate speech. It is important to remind the parties of their responsibilities under international human rights law and international humanitarian law, he told a virtual press briefing.

Stephanie Williams, the UN secretary-general’s acting special representative for Libya and head of the UNSMIL, is continuing her engagements with the parties, according to the spokesman.

Williams on Wednesday met with the five members of the east-based Libyan National Army (LNA) delegation. She is yet to meet with the delegation of the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli.

Smoke rises from Abou Slim area in Tripoli, Libya, on May 6, 2020. Indiscriminate shelling on Wednesday killed three civilians and injured 19 others in Libya’s capital Tripoli, said a Libyan official. (Photo by Amru Salahuddien/Xinhua)

Smoke rises from Abou Slim area in Tripoli, Libya, on May 6, 2020. Indiscriminate shelling on Wednesday killed three civilians and injured 19 others in Libya’s capital Tripoli, said a Libyan official. (Photo by Amru Salahuddien/Xinhua)

Dujarric said the meeting will take place in the coming days, without giving a specific date.

There is an existing draft cease-fire agreement that was presented by the UNSMIL to the parties in February. That constitutes the most solid basis for a resumption of the discussions between the LNA and the GNA and to bring an end to the fighting, said Dujarric.

The LNA launched an attack on Tripoli in April 2019. As the LNA is losing ground, the United Nations is trying to bring the emboldened GNA on board for cease-fire talks.

(XINHUA)

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Libya’s UN-backed government reports new advances against rivals

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Forces allied with Libya’s internationally recognised government said they had captured a major city from rivals on Friday, a day after they regained control of the capital Tripoli.

In recent weeks, forces from the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli have made swift territorial gains against the rival self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Khalifa Haftar.

The GNA’s military spokesman, Mohammed Gnounou, said on Friday government forces were in complete control of the city of Tarhouna, about 90 km south-east of Tripoli, and Haftar’s last stronghold in western Libya.

“Our heroic forces have taught Haftar’s terrorist militias an unforgettable lesson,” Gnounou added on Twitter.

Mostafa al-Majai, another GNA military spokesman, said the government forces had entered Tarhouna without any fighting after LNA forces had pulled out of the city into the desert.

“No reprisal acts have taken place inside the city. A large number of residents left the city days ago. This has made it easy to establish security there,” he told.

A source in Haftar’s forces confirmed on Friday that LNA forces and their allies had left Tarhouna.

Haftar’s loyalists seized Tarhouna following the start of their campaign in April last year to capture Tripoli from GNA.

Later Friday, the GNA military said its forces had also taken full control of al-Urban, a town about 130 km   south-west of Tripoli.

GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj has vowed to bring all Libyan territory under his government’s control, according to the official Twitter account of the GNA forces.

“There is no concession in applying justice and law to bring to account everyone involved in perpetrating crimes against Libyans,” he was quoted as saying.

The GNA government has repeatedly accused Haftar and his forces of committing war crimes.

Libya has been in turmoil since a 2011 revolt toppled long-time dictator Moamer Gaddafi.

The oil-wealthy country is divided between two rival factions that are supported by different regional powers.

Turkey, along with Qatar, backs the GNA against Haftar, who is supported by Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.

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Edited By: Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)

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UN-backed gov’t announces takeover of rival army’s last stronghold in western Libya

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The UN-backed Libyan government’s forces on Friday announced the takeover of Tarhuna city, the last stronghold of the rival east-based army in western Libya.

“Our brave forces took control over the entire city of Tarhuna, and taught forces of Haftar (east-based army’s commander) a lesson they will never forget,” said Mohamed Gonono, spokesman of the government forces, in a statement.

The government forces have sent a team to “search the city for any secret prisons or mass graves in order to uncover the fate of dozens of Libyans kidnapped or missing” during the fighting against the east-based army, Gonono added.

Tarhuna is located some 90 km southeast of the capital Tripoli.

Gonono on Thursday announced takeover of all Tripoli by expelling the east-based army from the capital city.

For more than a year, the east-based army has been leading a military campaign trying to take over Tripoli and topple the UN-backed government.

Amid repeated international calls for cease-fire, hundreds of civilians were killed and injured in the fighting while more than 150,000 others fled their homes.

(XINHUA)

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Libya’s GNA forces establish control over Tarhuna in country’s West – Spokesman

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Forces of Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) have regained control over the strategic town of Tarhuna, from the rival Libyan National Army (LNA), GNA military spokesman Mohammed Qanunu announced on Friday.

The Libyan National Army is being led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar

“Our

forces extend its control over the entire city of Tarhuna,” Qanunu wrote on Facebook, adding that the GNA taught the LNA “a lesson that it would never forget.”

Tarhuna, which is southeast of the capital of Tripoli, was one of Haftar’s major strongholds in western Libya.

On Thursday, the GNA said that it had retaken complete control over the capital’s administrative borders.

Prior to this move, the spokesman declared that the GNA had driven the LNA army out of the airport and other areas south of the capital.

Following these developments, the LNA said late on Thursday that it had redeployed its forces outside Tripoli to step up the resumed ceasefire talks of the 5 + 5 Joint Military commission.

However, Haftar’s army warned that “if the GNA forces violate the ceasefire, the LNA will resume fighting and withdraw from the negotiations.”

GNA head Fayez Sarraj, in turn, said the same day that the GNA did not intend to hold talks with Haftar.

On Thursday, Sarraj paid a one-day official visit to Turkey’s Ankara and negotiated with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Ergodan.

Ankara has given its support to the GNA during the ongoing conflict with Haftar’s army.

Turkish troops and military equipment were shipped to Libya after the GNA made an official request for military assistance at the end of 2019.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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Turkey, Libya to enhance cooperation in Eastern Mediterranean: Turkish president

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Turkey and Libya agreed to further enhance their cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean over a deal made on maritime delimitation, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday.

“On maritime delimitation, we aim to improve our cooperation, including exploration and drilling,” Erdogan said at a joint press conference with Libya’s UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

Sarraj on Thursday met with Erdogan in the Turkish capital Ankara after GNA’s military said in a statement that they had regained control over Tripoli.

Erdogan welcomed the recent military success of the GNA forces.

Turkey supports the GNA both politically and militarily. Ankara deployed Turkish troops in Libya to train and advise forces loyal to Sarraj in Tripoli.

Sarraj and Erdogan discussed the ways of lifting embargos on Libya, the Turkish president said, “We are on the same page on the issue of continuation of oil exports of Libya,” he stated.

Erdogan called on international actors to prevent the “illegal” oil export of Hafter.

Sarraj expressed gratitude for Turkey’s “historical and responsible attitude.” He said they want to increase cooperation with Turkey.

Since the uprising which killed former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, Libya has been divided between the powers of GNA and the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA).

(XINHUA)

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Erdogan says Turkey to increase support for Libya’s Serraj

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President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday  that Turkey would increase its support for Libya’s internationally recognised leader Fayez al Serraj and that the conflict there could only be resolved politically under the auspices of the UN.

In a news conference with Serraj in Ankara, Erdogan said that Turkey and Libya would also advance exploration and drilling for oil in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Erdogan said eastern commander Khalifa Haftar and his supporters are the biggest obstacle to peace.

Haftar’s forces, backed by the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Egypt, have been attacking Tripoli since April 2019 but have been pushed back in recent months.

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Edited By: Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)

 

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Eastern forces quit Libyan capital after year-long assault

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Libya’s internationally recognised government regained control of Tripoli on Thursday, driving eastern forces out of the capital after a year-long battle in which foreign powers poured in arms and fighters.

A military source with the eastern forces, whose base is in the eastern city of Benghazi, said they were pulling back from all of Tripoli’s suburbs. Government forces said they now held everything within the city boundary.

It represents a stinging reversal for eastern commander Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Army (LNA), which launched an offensive on Tripoli last year pledging to unite Libya after years of chaos.

Continued Russian, Egyptian and United Arab Emirates support for the LNA means the Government of National Accord (GNA), which is recognised by the United Nations and backed by Turkey, has little hope of carrying the war into eastern Libya for now.

But, with eastern forces withdrawing towards their northwestern stronghold of Tarhouna, the lines are being drawn for battles to come although both sides have agreed to resume UN-brokered ceasefire talks.

The arrival of heavier weapons, which the United States says include a fleet of Russian warplanes, means a new escalation could lead to deadlier fighting than at any time since the uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Last week France, which has been largely supportive of Haftar, said the conflict risked replicating the scenario of Syria, where Turkish and Russian rivalry bolstered both sides in an attritional war of bombardment and air strikes.

The main outside powers engaged in the conflict have welcomed the decision to resume ceasefire talks and publicly say they support a political resolution, but it is unclear if they could agree on a settlement.

It leaves Libya still partitioned between rival administrations in Tripoli and Benghazi in the east.

GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj will meet Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday in Ankara, where a senior Turkish official said the GNA advances were critical before any potential peace talks.

“Everyone wants to sit at the table without losing territory, but the territory you hold strengthens your positions at the table,” the official said, adding that Erdogan and Serraj would discuss both strategy and the situation on the ground.

The United Nations is responsible for convening talks, but its Libya envoy, Ghassan Salame, resigned in March and the Security Council has yet to agree on a permanent replacement.

Both sides in Libya are made up of unstable coalitions of sometimes rival factions. It is unclear how the failure of the Tripoli offensive could affect the position of Haftar, who went to Cairo on Wednesday for meetings with Egypt’s deputy defence minister.

Analysts say there are few other candidates capable of holding together the different forces in the LNA.

Its sudden reversals follow direct intervention by Turkey since late last year with drones that have targeted LNA supply lines and defences that neutralised much eastern air power.

In the past month, the GNA has also retaken a string of towns near the border with Tunisia and the strategic al-Watiya airbase southwest of the capital.

Fighting in the southern suburbs has for months involved intense bombardment of civilian areas held by the GNA, including rocket attacks on hospitals.

A GNA military spokesman said the recent advances meant Tripoli would now be out of range of LNA shelling.

But as the GNA moved southwards through the city over the past week, it said its fighters encountered many explosive booby traps hidden in houses.

Civilians in LNA-held Tarhouna now face the prospect of coming under more intense bombardment.


Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Silas Nwoha (NAN)

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Libya’s GNA forces regain control over Tripoli, says military escalation to reduce soon

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Forces of Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) have regained full control over Tripoli International Airport and the capital’s administrative borders from the rival Libyan National Army (LNA).

The military spokesman for GNA, Mohammed Qanunu, announced this in a statement on Thursday.

“Our

heroic forces control entire administrative borders of the greater city of Tripoli,” the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, GNA’s Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq expressed the belief, in an interview with Sputnik, that the military escalation in the North African country would soon reduce thanks to Russia’s effort.

The GNA

official came to Moscow on Wednesday for negotiations.

“Russia is a very important partner to settle the Libyan crisis.

“In the coming period, we will see a significant mitigation of the military escalation thanks to efforts of the Russian diplomats who will work with us to reduce it,” Maiteeq said.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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