Cairo - The commander of the Libyan National Army has called on young people in Tripoli to join its offensive to capture the capital from the UN-backed government based there amid warnings from the international community of military escalation and targeting of civilians.

The LNA, led by commander Khalifa Haftar, reached out via a post published on one of its official Facebook pages Friday, calling for young people in the city to work with its marching forces to eliminate all militias allied with the Tripoli-based government.

“The decisive hour is not far,” Brig. Gen. Khaled Al Mahjoub, head of the LNA mobilisation department told The Associated Press. “We are only 5km away from the capital, our forces are advancing, and they are retracting.”

Libya slid into chaos after the 2011 uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi and is now split between rival authorities in the east and west, each backed by various militias. Haftar’s LNA, which is allied with the eastern government, launched an offensive against Tripoli in April but has made little progress amid stiff resistance by militias loosely allied with the government there. The fighting has killed more than 1,000 people, mostly combatants, according to the World Health Organisation.