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Tripoli's only functional airport hit by air raid as clashes rage

09 Апреля 2019

Russian Federation on Sunday blocked a UN Security Council statement that would have called on forces loyal to Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar to halt their advance on Tripoli, diplomats said.

The UN has said that 2,800 people have fled from the fighting near Libya's capital, with the Ministry of Public Health already revealing that at least 25 people had been killed and 80 wounded.

Tensions in the country have risen after General Khalifa Haftar, whose Libyan National Army (LNA) controls most of eastern Libya, launched a campaign to take over Tripoli where the UN-backed government is based.

The UN secretary general appeals for calm in Libya where fighting has been ongoing between rival groups for a week now.

Earlier Tuesday, warplanes affiliated with Haftar's forces struck Tripoli's global airport without causing casualties, local witnesses said.

Moscow insisted that the formal statement urge all Libyan forces to stop fighting, but the proposed change was opposed by the U.S., council diplomats said.

After a pause overnight, fighting resumed Monday morning around the capital's destroyed main airport, some 30 kilometers (18 miles) south of Tripoli, and the rural area of Wadi Rabi further east.

However, armed groups coming from the nearby city of Misurata are supporting the Tripoli government, led by Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj, to counter the Libyan National Army.

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Serraj has run Tripoli since 2016 as part of a UN-brokered deal boycotted by Haftar.

Eastern Libyan forces sought to reach the centre of Tripoli after their easy advance through desert hit a trickier urban phase, with deaths and displacements mounting and the West aghast at the threat to its peace plan.

The Libyan National Army, allied to a parallel government based in Benghazi in the east, controlled the oil-rich south of the country earlier in the year before its surprising and rapid advancement towards the coastal capital.

The violence has jeopardised a United Nations plan for an April 14-16 conference to plan elections and end anarchy that has prevailed since the Western-backed toppling of Gaddafi.

United Nations envoy Ghassan Salame met the Prime Minister in his Tripoli office to discuss "this critical and hard juncture", the UN's Libya mission said.

Haftar casts himself as a foe of extremism but is viewed by opponents as a new dictator in the mould of Gaddafi, whose 40 years rule saw torture, disappearances and assassinations.

Since NATO-backed rebels ousted Gaddafi, Libya has been a transit point for hundreds of thousands of migrants trekking across the Sahara in hope of reaching Europe across the sea.

When President Emmanuel Macron named Le Drian his foreign minister, Paris increased support for Haftar, in close alignment with Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, which see him as a bulwark against Islamists and have supported him militarily, according to U.N. reports.

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Tripoli's only functional airport hit by air raid as clashes rage