Clashes Erupt In South Of Tripoli

Posted April 24, 2019

In a sharp reversal of longstanding U.S. policy which recognizes only the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli as the legitimate authority over Libya, the White House on Friday said President Trump spoke by phone this week to Benghazi based commander Khalifa Haftar, pledging support to the general and his Libyan National Army (LNA) as it lays siege to the capital.

"In the past week, WHO Libya specialized emergency medical teams in frontline hospitals handled 89 major and 63 surgeries".

World Health Organization said on Wednesday it would send medical staff to treat the wounded, whose number has reached 913.

The offensive, which Haftar said was aimed at cleansing Libya's western region of "remaining terrorist groups", has raised fears of a full-blown civil war in the oil-rich country, which has been mired in chaos since the NATO-backed toppling of long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

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The UN-backed government says it has launched a counter-offensive against Gen Haftar's forces. Residents had reported drone strikes in recent days, but there has been no confirmation and explosions heard in the city centre this time were louder than in previous days.

The fighting pits the LNA, led by Khalifa Hifter, against rival militias affiliated with a weak UN-supported government in the capital.

Trump's and Gen. Haftar "discussed a shared vision for Libya's transition to a stable, democratic political system", the White House said.

The Libyan National Army (LNA) of Benghazi-based commander Khalifa Haftar took control of the Tripoli airport bridge and advanced along the airport road and Sawani district toward the City Center areas, well-informed Libyan sources said on Saturday.

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Observers see Trump's words of praise for the strongman, at the expense of internationally-recognized leader Fayez al-Sarraj, as evidence of United States support that explains Haftar's determination to pursue his offensive to seize Tripoli.

Gen Haftar, a former army officer, was appointed chief of the LNA in 2015 under an earlier, internationally recognised government based in Tobruk.

Russian Federation objects to the British-drafted resolution blaming Gen Haftar for the latest flare-up in violence when his LNA advanced to the outskirts of Tripoli earlier this month, diplomats said.

In the past the United Arab Emirates and Egypt have supported Haftar with air strikes during campaigns to take eastern Libya. The foreign ministers of France and Italy also said they are trying to forge a common strategy on Libya.

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