Published: Sun, April 07, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Security alert in Tripoli as militia advances

Security alert in Tripoli as militia advances

General Khalifa Haftar has emerged as a key player in Libya's civil war, with his self-styled Libyan National Army seizing the country's main oil fields and export terminals for the rival government backing him in the east.

Haftar's loyalists say they seized the checkpoint without any fighting.

Meanwhile armed groups allied to the UN-backed Tripoli government moved more machine gun-mounted pickups from the coastal city of Misrata to Tripoli to defend it against Haftar's forces.

Russian Federation has denied supporting a Libyan general who is now marching on the country's capital in an apparent attempt to take control of the north African nation.

Guterres tells reporters in Tripoli on Thursday that there is no military solution to Libya's war and that for the sake of the upcoming peace conference this month among Libyan factions, de-escalation is needed.

Some of Haftar's supporters have called the United Nations efforts a waste of time, urging him to carry out a military solution to establish himself as national army commander. He brought his troops closer to Tripoli, which is controlled by the United Nations -backed Presidential Council and Government of National Accord and supporting militias. It's the closest to Tripoli that Hifter's fighters reached in their campaign westwards from the country's east.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for restraint on Thursday from Tripoli, where he is now in talks to push for an global peace deal.

The United States' embassy said it "strongly condemns the increase in violence in Libya and reiterates the UN's call for restraint".

"I am deeply concerned by the military movement taking place in Libya and the risk of confrontation".

Russian Federation called for "all possible efforts to fully resolve the situation with peaceful political means".

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Eastern Libyan troops began advancing on Wednesday, and took control of a town about 100 kilometers south of the capital.

The French news agency quoted the head of military operations for General Haftar's forces in western Libya, General Abdessalam al-Hassi, as confirming that his forces now control the town.

Another tweet by Libya Observer on Thursday said, "all Misrata forces held an emergency meeting today" to agree on a "unified reaction" to the deployment of Haftar's troops in the western part of the country.

Asked if Russian Federation was supporting Hifter, Peskov said: "No, Moscow isn't involved in that in any way".

Libyans attend a protest against General Khalifa Haftar from Libyan National Army, in Tripoli, Libya March 8, 2019.

Former colonial power Italy, which lies across the Mediterranean and has been a destination for migrants, was very anxious, Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said.

"We need to throw water on the fire, not petrol on the fire", Salvini said.

"Capturing Tripoli. remains a possibility" for Haftar, with the support he receives from Saudi Arabia and its allies Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, he said.

"I hope that people, acting out of economic or business self-interest, are not looking for a military solution, which would be devastating".

"The UAE is actively supporting Haftar's forces on the ground", al-Khater said.

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