Libyan militias capture Haftar's forces marching on Tripoli

Libyan militias capture Haftar's forces marching on Tripoli

Libyan militias capture Haftar's forces marching on Tripoli

Forces loyal to rival Libyan army commander Khalifa Haftar said Saturday they seized control of the main airport in Libya's capital Tripoli, two days after Haftar ordered his forces to seize the seat of Libya's United Nations -backed government.

Forces loyal to Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar on Thursday encircled Tripoli in a long-anticipated push to take the capital and wrest power away from the Western-backed government. The general's loyalists say five of their troops have been killed in the clashes. The Zawiya militia is one of dozens that have proliferated since the overthrow of veteran dictator Moamer Kadhafi in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 and are variously aligned with the UN-backed unity government in the capital and a rival administration in the east backed by Haftar's forces.

Haftar then ordered his forces to march on the capital, saying in an audio recording posted online: "We are coming Tripoli, we are coming".

The U.N. Security Council on Friday also called on Haftar to halt his advance on Tripoli, warning the military move was putting Libya's stability at risk.

"Fighting is still ongoing on in Qasr bin Ghashir area near Tripoli", Bashaga said.

Pro-government forces in Tripoli said they had targeted Gen Haftar's forces with "intensive strikes", AFP reported.

The Russian foreign ministry said in a statement on Saturday that Haftar told Bogdanov about what he described as efforts to fight terrorists in Libya, including near its capital Tripoli in the west of the country.

"I still hope it is possible to avoid a bloody confrontation in and around Tripoli", Guterres tweeted.

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On April 4, Haftar announced the launch of an offensive on Tripoli.

Haftar, who casts himself as a foe of "extremism" but is viewed by opponents as a new authoritarian leader in the mould of Gaddafi, has vowed to continue his offensive until Libya is "cleansed" of "terrorism".

In response to Haftar's drive, the GNA has also authorised air attacks against "any military activities by [LNA] forces trying to enter the capital", Abdelwahed said.

A G7 communique said that "we recall that Libya's oil facilities, production, and revenues belong to the Libyan people, and must not be used by any party for political gain".

"They (the council) called on LNA forces to halt all military movements", said German UN Ambassador Christoph Heusgen, president of the council for April, reading a statement agreed by the body after it was briefed behind closed doors on the latest developments. Each is backed by an array of militias.

The movements from Haftar came as a surprise with the United Nations in the country to broker peace with UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

The DFA also echoed on Saturday the advice of the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli for Filipinos in Libya to remain vigilant and alert at all times.

A former officer in Qaddafi's army, Haftar enjoys the backing of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, which see him as a bulwark against extremists and have supported him militarily, according to UN reports.

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