Clashes break out in Tripoli, UN Secretary-General leaves Libya with ‘heavy heart’

Tripoli: Clashes broke out here on Friday between forces aligned to Eastern Libyan army commander Khalifa Hafter and the UN-backed pro-government soldiers.

Quoting sources, CNN reported that the clashes impacted regions located 50 kilometres south of the Libyan capital.

Meanwhile, Haftar’s office said that his forces indulged in “violent fighting on the edge of Tripoli with armed militias”.

In addition, Haftar also told UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that his operation towards Tripoli will continue until terrorism has been defeated.
The statement by Haftar came a day after Guterres on Thursday pushed for a bid to avoid a military escalation on Tripoli.

Guterres met Haftar in Benghazi, a day after his troops launched an offensive against the UN-backed government in Tripoli which the Eastern Commander dubbed as ‘terrorists’.

“I leave Libya with a heavy heart and deeply concerned. I still hope it is possible to avoid a bloody confrontation in and around Tripoli,” Guterres said on Twitter.

“The UN is committed to facilitating a political solution and, whatever happens, the UN is committed to supporting the Libyan people,” he added.

An audio message posted on Libyan National Army (LNA) Facebook page on Wednesday said that Haftar, who commands the LNA from its eastern base of Benghazi, earlier took over Gharyan, a town 100 kilometres south of Tripoli and is now heading towards to the western part of the country.

“We are coming Tripoli, we are coming,” Haftar was heard as saying in the audio.

The audio recording came during Guterres’s visit to the war-torn country, where he said he was “totally committed” to support a Libyan-led political process.

Guterres’ visit comes amid talks aimed at drawing a roadmap for new national elections in Libya.

Meanwhile, the United States, France, Britain, Italy, and the United Arab Emirates, in a joint statement issued on Thursday, called for an immediate de-escalation of tensions in Libya.

“Our governments oppose any military action in Libya and will hold accountable any Libyan faction that precipitates further civil conflict,” the statement said.