Dozens killed in Libya battle as Haftar forces fight for Tripoli

Dozens killed in Libya battle as Haftar forces fight for Tripoli

Dramatic video footage shows a jet firing two rockets at Mitiga airport - around 10km away from the city centre - amid violent clashes in the capital.

The LNA has conducted air strikes on the south of the city as it seeks to advance into the center from a disused airport.

LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari confirmed later on Monday that his forces were still controlling the airport, revealing that minor skirmishes had taken place in areas south, southeast and west of Tripoli, thereby refuting GNA claims that its forces had made advances on the LNA.

Mismari said that the LNA had lost only two members in the fighting.

A contingent of US forces was earlier evacuated.

Hafter's forces, having moved from the east of the country, have descended on the capital Tripoli and are fighting forces loyal to the internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli after vowing to take over western parts of Libya and to free the area of "terrorists".

In central Tripoli, while there were no signs yet of military and security vehicles or personnel on the streets, shops and cafes were closing earlier than usual in the evening and residents were apprehensive about the prospect of violence.

The government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj, 59, is seeking to block the LNA with the help of allied armed groups who have rushed to Tripoli from Misrata in pickup trucks fitted with machine guns.

Al-Sarraj has been heading the Tripoli government since 2016 under a UN-mediated agreement, which Haftar has boycotted.

His Tripoli government has reported 11 deaths in the past few days, without saying on which side. "The United Nations is deeply concerned for the welfare of the civilian population in the ongoing violence and of the implications of the attack on the airport".

The UN has said that 2,800 people have fled from the fighting near Libya's capital, with the Ministry of Public Health already revealing that at least 25 people had been killed and 80 wounded.

United Nations special envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame condemned the attack on Tripoli's only functioning airport, saying the United Nations was "deeply concerned for the welfare of the civilian population in the ongoing violence".

The violence has thrown into doubt a United Nations plan for an April 14 to16 conference to plan elections as a way out of the anarchy since the Western-backed toppling of Gaddafi eight years ago.

The media office for Haftar's army said 22 troops had been killed.

Islamic State staged some high profile attacks in Tripoli a year ago, but the militant group has largely retreated to the desert of southern Libya since the loss of its former stronghold in Sirte in late 2016.

Forces backing the Tripoli-based GNA on Sunday announced a counteroffensive dubbed "Volcano of Anger".

When President Emmanuel Macron named Le Drian his foreign minister, Paris increased support for Haftar, in close alignment with Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, which see him as a bulwark against Islamists and have supported him militarily, according to U.N. reports.

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