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UN Libya mission ‘alarmed’ by rise in violence, slams rebel shelling of Tripoli

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)
A boy stands by as people inspect a damaged building following a rocket attack by rebel forces, at a residential area in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, on February 28, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

The United Nations mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has censured the rising violence in the North African country, expressing alarm about a fresh round of clashes raging through areas on the outskirts of the capital, Tripoli.

The UNSMIL said in a statement on Wednesday that it was “alarmed by the continuing escalation of violence,” particularly by the intensification of deadly fighting in the past few days, which risked creating “new waves of displacement.”

Fighting has recently intensified near the Libyan capital, which is the seat of the country’s internationally-recognized government headed by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

Since April last year, rebel forces under the command of renegade general Khalifa Haftar have been fighting in an all-out offensive to capture Tripoli and unseat the government but have remained bogged down on the city’s outskirts.

Libyan government forces on Tuesday managed to make major gains against the armed rebels, capturing seven cities and towns located northwest of the capital.

The rebels retaliated by firing rockets at residential areas in Tripoli.

A Libyan boy walks past debris at the site of shelling on the residential area of Arada in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, on April 14, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

In the statement on Wednesday, the UNSMIL also condemned the rebels’ “indiscriminate bombardment of Tripoli with rockets, many of which have landed on civilian neighborhoods, resulting in casualties.”

The mission warned that “acts of revenge will further escalate the conflict, and lead to a cycle of revenge that threatens the social fabric in Libya.”

Clashes around Tripoli escalated over the past week after the rebels breached a March 21 humanitarian truce aimed at facilitating efforts to combat the coronavirus outbreak in the war-torn country.

The breach compelled the Libyan government to launch an operation on March 25 to push the rebels back.

According to the United Nations (UN), hundreds of people have been killed and more than 200,000 have been displaced since Haftar launched his campaign to capture Tripoli.

Sarraj said in an interview published Wednesday by Italian daily La Repubblica that he would no longer negotiate a political solution with Haftar over the “crimes” he has committed against the Libyan people.

Libya plunged into chaos in 2011, when a popular uprising and a NATO intervention led to the ouster of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Since 2014, two rival seats of power have emerged in the North African country — the United Nations (UN)-recognized government of Sarraj in Tripoli, and another group based in the eastern city of Tobruk, supported militarily by Haftar’s rebels.


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