Published: Fri, April 19, 2019

Death toll tops 200 in battle for Libya's Tripoli

Death toll tops 200 in battle for Libya's Tripoli

Libya has been witnessing intensifying fighting in Tripoly ever since the sel-styled Libyan National Army, led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, launched an assault on the country's capital on April 4. France however said it supports the Tripoli-based government.

Interior minister Fathi Bach Agha ordered the "suspension of all relations between the ministry and the French side. due to the position of the French government in support of the criminal Haftar", it said in a statement.

"Even after massive evacuation from Libya and the travel ban, there are over 500 Indian nationals in Tripoli".

Italy, the ex-colonial power with extensive oil holdings in Libya, backs the Tripoli government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj and fumed over French reluctance to endorse a recent European Union resolution urging Haftar to halt his advance.

As a result of Haftar's offensive, in April the USA military withdrew a small number of troops from Libya that had been performing diplomatic and counter-terrorism missions against ISIS, citing "increased unrest in Libya".

The GNA on Thursday issued an arrest warrant for Haftar for allegedly ordering deadly air strikes against civilian areas.

United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric said it was the highest single-day increase in displacement.

Mortars crashed down on a suburb of Tripoli on Thursday, nearly hitting a clinic and adding to people's suffering after two weeks of an offensive by eastern troops on the Libyan capital, which is held by an internationally recognized government.

The shelling came a day after seven people were killed when Grad rockets hit a densely populated district of Tripoli, which the LNA has been trying to take, deepening the chaos that has plagued the oil-producing nation since 2011.

A one-time officer in former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's army who spent years living in exile in Virginia and later fought against Gadhafi's regime, Haftar, who is aligned with a parliament based in the country's east, has also reportedly received some support in the past from France, Russia, the UAE and Egypt.

On Monday, the GNA said at least 76 people, including 24 civilians, had been killed since clashes erupted on the outskirts of Tripoli.

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