Tripoli forces push opponents back slightly south of Libyan capital

A Renegade General Marches on Tripoli — With Dreams of Being the Gadhafi

Caption

In the first days of April, Khalifa Haftar, commander of forces loyal to Libya's eastern government, launched a campaign to capture Tripoli, where a rival UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) is headquartered.

President Donald Trump phoned Hifter earlier this week, expressing USA support for the leader's perceived stance against terrorism.

Trump's and Gen. Haftar "discussed a shared vision for Libya's transition to a stable, democratic political system", the White House said.

On Thursday, the U.S. and Russian Federation opposed a UN ceasefire bid that was backed by the United Kingdom, France and Germany.

An armed group attacked a major air base in southern Libya held by eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar on Thursday after he moved most of his forces north to try to seize the capital Tripoli, officials said.

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Both sides claimed progress in southern Tripoli yesterday, but no more details were immediately available.

The latest flare-up in the cycle of anarchy gripping Libya since dictator Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011 threatens to disrupt oil flows, foment migration across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe, and allow jihadists to exploit the chaos.

Mustafa al-Mejii, a spokesman for the GNA's military operation, said his forces "have launched a new phase of attack".

Libya is split between rival governments in the east and west. President Donald Trump phoned Hifter earlier this week, expressing USA support for the leader's perceived stance against terrorism.

World Health Organization said on Wednesday it would send medical staff to treat the wounded, whose number has reached 913.

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Forces loyal to Tripoli managed to push back the LNA several km (miles) in the southern Ain Zara suburb, Reuters reporters visiting the area said.

The LNA said its fighters were "taking control of several new positions on the front lines in Tripoli".

Hifter has received aid from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Russia and France.

In the following days, the council was unable, however, to issue a more formal statement, diplomats said, as Russian Federation objected to a reference to the LNA, while the United States said it could not agree to a text that did not mention Haftar's forces. "We, the Libyan people, are against Trump and against Haftar".

In terms of global backing, Haftar enjoys the support of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Russia and - now, clearly - the United States.

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