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UN calls for week-long humanitarian truce in Libya as tensions rise

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Fighters loyal to the internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) react during clashes with forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar, in Espiaa, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) south of the Libyan capital Tripoli on April 29, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

The UN mission in Libya has issued a statement calling on warring sides to implement a week-long humanitarian ceasefire starting from Monday, the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Libya.

In a statement the UN Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) urged the Government and National Accord (GNA) and forces loyal to the eastern-based renegade General Khalifa Haftar to implement a truce starting Monday morning at 0400 local time to coincide with the beginning of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.

"UNSMIL calls on all parties to deliver humanitarian aid to those in need and to ensure the freedom of movement for civilians during this truce," UNSMIL said in a statement.

There was no immediate comment from Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) force nor from the internationally recognized government in the capital.

Artillery shelling could be heard on Sunday coming from southern outskirts where the LNA has been trying to breach defenses by Tripoli forces. The fighting has displaced around 50,000 people, the UN has said.

Haftar: Fight harder during Ramadan

Haftar ordered his troops, who are trying to take the capital Tripoli, to chase and destroy withdrawing enemy forces, according to an audio tape published on Sunday.

On the tape published by his force's spokesman, Haftar also said that the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan was a month of jihad, or holy war.

The fighting began last month after Haftar’s loyalists launched an offensive to seize Tripoli. The UN says hundreds of people have been killed so far. Thousands more have also been displaced.

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