Tripoli: Eastern Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar Friday told UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that his operation towards Tripoli will continue until terrorism has been defeated.
Guterres tweeted that he was leaving Libya with a ‘heavy heart’ and was deeply concerned. Earlier, the governments of the UAE, France, Italy, UK and the US called on all parties to stop the escalation immediately.
‘At this critical moment of transition in Libya, taking the military position and threats of unilateral action will only risk dragging Libya into chaos,” the five governments said in a statement in Washington.
Armed clashes broke out Friday south of Libya’s capital Tripoli between a pro-government alliance and forces loyal to eastern commander Khalifa Haftar, sources on both sides said. A unity government source said the fighting struck regions less than 50km south of the capital. The press office of Haftar’s force said there had been “violent fighting on the edge of Tripoli with armed militias”.
I leave Libya with a deep concern and a heavy heart. I still hope it will be possible to avoid a bloody confrontation in and around Tripoli
Guterres pushed earlier to avoid a military escalation, meeting Haftar a day after his troops launched an offensive against what he called terrorists.
The lightning assault by forces loyal to Haftar was met with international appeals for restraint and an emergency meeting by the UN Security Council to be held later.
“I leave Libya with a deep concern and a heavy heart. I still hope it will be possible to avoid a bloody confrontation in and around Tripoli,” Guterres said in a statement.
The United Nations chief met with Haftar in the eastern city of Benghazi, an official from his self-proclaimed Libyan National Army told AFP without giving further details.
Russia called for “all possible efforts to fully resolve the situation with peaceful political means”.
“We believe that the main thing is for any actions not to lead to renewed bloodshed,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.