Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 August 2019

Libyan National Army calls for Tripoli youth to back push to end rule of militias

The fighting has killed over 1,000, mostly fighters, and displaced over 100,000

Fighters loyal to Libya's Government of National Accord hold a position west of the city of Aziziah, some 60 kilometres southwest of the capital Tripoli. AFP
Fighters loyal to Libya's Government of National Accord hold a position west of the city of Aziziah, some 60 kilometres southwest of the capital Tripoli. AFP

Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army has called on the youth of Tripoli to back his offensive on the capital as he attempts to stamp out militias backing the UN-backed Government of National Accord.

The latest declaration that the Libyan National Army will double down on its push to end the grinding stalemate comes just days after the UAE, US, UK, Egypt, France and Italy said the country’s factions must stop fighting and return to the UN-mediated political process.

The LNA posted on one of its official Facebook pages calling on the young people of the capital to work with its forces.

“The decisive hour is not far,” Brig Gen Khaled Al Mahjoub, head of the LNA mobilization department, told The Associated Press. “We are only five kilometres away from the capital, our forces are advancing, and they are retracting.”

The LNA launched an offensive in April but has failed to make significant gains as fighting pushed the death toll to over 1,100, mostly fighters, with over 100,000 displaced.

Libya slid into chaos after the 2011 uprising that toppled Muammar Qaddafi and is now split between rival authorities in the east and west, each backed by various militias.

The Tripoli-based government issued a statement early Saturday saying it had gathered information suggesting that Field Marshal Hafter’s forces were planning a military escalation in the form of airstrikes against key sites in the capital, including Mitiga airport, Tripoli’s only functioning airport.

Claudia Gazzini, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group said there’s little evidence of a planned increase in the offensive.

“Based on observations in and around Tripoli and other surrounding cities until yesterday, there was no evidence of major movement of LNA affiliated forces,” she said.

The UN Support Mission in Libya said Saturday it was “doing its utmost with all local and foreign actors to avoid military escalation and to ensure protection of civilians from any targeting".

Updated: July 20, 2019 10:33 PM

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