Libya fighting escalates as Haftar forces carry out airstrike on Tripoli suburb

Forces loyal to General Khalifa Haftar press on with their push towards Tripoli as the UN-backed government launches a counteroffensive operation called Volcano of Rage

Mirage F1 fighter jet: Haftar's forces carried out an airstrike on Sunday on forces loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord in the suburbs of Tripoli
Mirage F1 fighter jet: Haftar's forces carried out an airstrike on Sunday on forces loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord in the suburbs of Tripoli

Fighting in the suburbs of the Libyan capital Tripoli intensified on Sunday as forces loyal to General Khalifa Haftar carried out an airstrike.

Clashes raged in the farmland region of Wadi Raba and the old international airport south of the capital.

The self-styled Libyan National Army under Haftar continued with its offensive to capture Tripoli despite international calls to lay down arms.

The airstrike happened shortly after the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) announced a counteroffensive to stop Haftar.

The counteroffensive called Operation Volcano of Rage is backed by forces from the city of Misurata, allied to the GNA.

Reports from Libya said fighters from Misurata mobilised machine-gun mounted pick-up trucks in a bid to defend Tripoli.

The escalation has closed schools in Tripoli and sent people into panic buying from supermarkets. The US also announced it was withdrawing its diplomatic corps and a military contingent from Libya because of the deteriorating security situation.
The head of the GNA, Fayez Sarraj on Saturday accused Haftar of betrayal after launching the offensive before a planned UN-sponsored national conference to try and broker a peace deal in Libya.

EU foreign ministers on Saturday upped pressure on Haftar to halt his offensive on Tripoli but failed to outline any enforcement mechanisms if the Libyan strongman refused to commit to a political solution.

Meanwhile, the Libya Observer has reported that Sarraj summoned the French ambassador in Libya Béatrice du Hellen to officially protest France’s support to Haftar’s armed groups.

The newspaper quoted unnamed sources claiming that France was fuelling the fighting in western Libya by giving Haftar the green light to attack and seize Tripoli.
Haftar, who is based in Benghazi and enjoys the support of the eastern-based rival parliament in Tobruk, declared war on Tripoli last Thursday when UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres was in the capital to finalise arrangements for the national peace conference.

Guterres went on to meet Haftar in Benghazi in a bid to persuade him to stop the attack but Tweeted later that he was leaving Libya with “a heavy heart”. Haftar vowed to continue with the military offensive.

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