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Libyan govt. forces shell positions of pro-Haftar rebel forces south of Tripoli

Libyan government forces parade a Pantsir air defense system truck in the capital Tripoli on May 20, 2020, after its capture at al-Watiya airbase (Okba Ibn Nafa airbase) from forces loyal to eastern-based strongman General Khalifa Haftar. (Photo by AFP)

Forces of Libya’s internationally-recognized government have reportedly launched artillery attacks targeting rebel forces loyal to renegade general Khalifa Haftar stationed at Tripoli airport.

The Libyan government’s Operation Volcano of Rage military command reported Sunday that the positions of Haftar’s militias had been hit at the airport south of Tripoli, according to Turkey’s Anadolu News Agency.

Three armored vehicles belonging to Haftar-led rebel forces were destroyed in the artillery attacks.

Other reports said five civilians were killed and 12 others wounded by the shelling that hit a grassy area used as a park in Tripoli.

The incident highlighted a continued risk to the civilian population despite a relative lull in fighting around Tripoli since Haftar’s eastern-based forces were pushed out of their positions around the city earlier this month.

Such shelling incidents are mostly attributed to Haftar’s forces, who have been engaged in an abortive military campaign to seize Tripoli since April 2019.

Haftar’s forces have launched numerous attacks on government positions over the past year, but they remain bogged down on the city’s outskirts.

Government forces recently liberated several towns that had been occupied by the rebels in the northwest.

More than 1,000 people have reportedly been killed in the fighting.

‘Mass grave found south of capital’

Meanwhile, a mass grave has reportedly been found in an area south of Tripoli.

Anadolu Agency cited the Libyan Interior Ministry as saying on Sunday that the grave was discovered in Sadiyah area, which had been liberated from Haftar’s forces.

The ministry said a mother, a father and two children were found buried in the grave.

Since mid-2014, Libya has been mired in civil war, pitting the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli against a rival administration in Tobruk, which is allied with Haftar.

Libya first plunged into chaos and militancy in 2011, when a popular uprising and a NATO intervention led to longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s ouster.

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