Moscow calls for calm on 'all sides' in Libya conflict
Story Code : 787719
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that Moscow was calling "on all sides to reject actions that could provoke bloodshed in battle and the deaths of civilians."
Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov also announced that Moscow was in contact with all sides in the conflict to pave the way for a “political solution.”
There has been heavy fighting near Tripoli since the forces of Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar launched an assault on Thursday to seize the capital city.
Libya has been the scene of increasing violence since 2011, when former dictator Muammar Gaddafi was killed in a NATO military intervention that followed a popular uprising. Gaddafi's ouster created a huge power vacuum, leading to chaos and the emergence of numerous militant outfits, including the Daesh terrorist group.
The North African country is now divided between two rival governments – the House of Representatives, which is based in the eastern city of Tobruk and under Haftar’s command, and the internationally-recognized government of Fayez al-Sarraj, or the Tripoli-based unity Government of National Accord (GNA).
Fighting over the seizure of Tripoli escalated on Sunday after the so-called Libyan National Army, led by Haftar, carried out an air raid on the southern part of the capital and made progress towards the city center.
Libyan Health Minister Ahmid Omar told the Al-Ahrar television station later in day that at least 32 people had so far been killed and around 50 wounded in fighting with pro-Haftar forces near Tripoli.
Forces loyal to the Libyan strong man said 22 of their fighters had died so far.
The United Nations humanitarian office said in a report on Monday that at least 2,200 people have fled from fighting south of Tripoli since April 4, and many civilians were trapped and cut off from emergency services.
The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting on the situation in Libya behind closed doors on Friday. In a statement to the press afterwards, the 15-member body called on LNA forces to halt “all military movements.”
The United Nations has already voiced deep concerns about the escalating tensions. It plans to hold a conference later this month in the Libyan city of Ghadames to discuss a political solution to the conflict.
Tripoli's airport hit by air raid Libya’s security sources announced on Monday that a warplane had carried out an air strike against Mitiga Airport, the Libyan capital's only functioning airport.
Authorities at the site said no side had yet claimed responsibility for the raid, which hit a runway without causing casualties. The capital's main airport was destroyed in fighting in 2014.
Mitiga airport is on a former military base on the city's eastern outskirts, and it was forced to close several times because of clashes between rival governments last year.