UN urges calm in Libyan capital amid clashes

Tripoli:The UN Support Mission in Libya has called on warring armed groups in the south of the capital to “immediately cease all military action” and end the intensifying clashes that have claimed at least four lives in recent days.

“UNSMIL is following the clashes in and around Tripoli with grave concern and calls on all parties to immediately cease all military action,” the Mission said in a statement.

The UN Mission said it was “concerned” by the use of indiscriminate fire and heavy weapons in densely populated residential areas of Tripoli that put civilian lives at risk.

“UNSMIL reminds all parties of their duty to protect civilians, in accordance with international humanitarian and human rights law,” said the statement.

“Political aims must not be pursued through violence,” the statement said, warning that the escalating clashes between armed groups could lead to “wider military confrontation”.

UNSMIL reaffirmed its suport for Libya’s UN-backed unity government (GNA), whose presidential council on Monday vowed a military offensive against the armed groups vying for control of the Libyan capital, to outlaw them and to slap them with UN-mandated sanctions.

The UN mission urged “serious efforts by all sides to unify the institutions of the country”, the statement said.

Seven years after the 2011 NATO-backed ouster of late dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Libya remains split between the UN-backed GNA in Tripoli and a rival administration in the east supported by military strongman Khalifa Haftar.

Both sides are backed by a myriad of militias and jihadist groups and people traffickers have taken advantage of the turmoil to gain a foothold in the lawless North African country.