Libya crisis: Fighting flares on outskirts of Tripoli

Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) said on Friday its forces had advanced into the capital's southern outskirts and taken its former global airport.

Guterres flew to the east of Libya on Friday but his efforts failed to convince Haftar to stop his military actions. Its elite force, Saiqa (Lightning), numbers some 3,500, while Haftar's sons also have well-equipped troops, LNA sources say. Haftar's declaration of war on Tripoli on the same day came as a surprise to many.

The Zawiya militia is one of dozens that have proliferated since the 2011 overthrow of dictator Moamer Kadhafi and are variously aligned with Sarraj's government and a rival administration in the east backed by Haftar.

Russian Federation also called for restraint, saying Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told Haftar in a phone call that Moscow continues to insist on a political solution to "disputed issues" in Libya.

On Saturday, a source with the Libyan Presidential Guard told Anadolu Agency that Haftar forces were still in control of Qasr bin Ghashir as GNA forces were mobilizing forces to relaunch a campaign to recapture areas under Haftar's control.

Analysts also believe Haftar wants to affirm his military clout after launching successful operations in the east and the south of the country - spurred by the fact that the global community failed to react to those past offensives.

"They (the council) called on LNA forces to halt all military movements", said German UN Ambassador Christoph Heusgen, president of the council for April, reading a statement agreed by the body after it was briefed behind closed doors on the latest developments. The UN Security council has issued a similar call.

In Cairo on Saturday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said the crisis in neighboring Libya could not be resolved through military means, though insecurity there had always been a source of worry.

The coastal capital Tripoli is the ultimate prize for Haftar's eastern parallel government.

The lightening assault was ordered as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was in Libya for a visit aimed at cementing a political deal on holding elections.

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".

For Libyan university professor Ahmad al-Messalati, Haftar "is capable of taking Tripoli but only on one condition", if he manages to form "strong and efficient alliances with certain armed groups" in Tripoli to ensure his forces can enter the capital without bloodshed.

On Thursday, Haftar's forces took over Gharyan, a town 100km south of Tripoli.

The military thrust by Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA), which is allied to a parallel administration based in the east, has marked a risky escalation of a power struggle that has dragged on since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The airport has not been functional since fighting in 2014 destroyed much of the facility. "Short clashes were reported between the forces in the area of Hira", according to Libya Herald.


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