Battle for Tripoli threatens hopes of Libyan peace

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on April 8, 2019 - Duration: 01:56s

Battle for Tripoli threatens hopes of Libyan peace

Deaths and displacements mount as forces loyal to a Gaddafi-era officer try to advance on Libya's capital Tripoli.

David Doyle reports.

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Battle for Tripoli threatens hopes of Libyan peace

These soldiers are preparing to advance on Tripoli as two rival governments battle over Libya's capital.

It's a conflict that threatens to disrupt oil and gas supplies, trigger more migration to Europe, and wreck U.N.

Plans for an election.

At the weekend troops from the Libyan National Army, or LNA, took a disused airport in Tripoli's south.

They've carried out airstrikes as they try to push north; on Monday (April 9) an airstrike hit Tripoli's only functioning airport.

The LNA is commanded by Gaddafi-era officer Khalifa Haftar, and backs a government based in the eastern city of Benghazi.

Earlier this year they seized Libya's oil rich south.

But while the advance through sparsely populated desert was straightforward, taking the city is more challenging.

That's partly because these soldiers have also been heading for the capital.

They're allied to the Tripoli-based government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj, which enjoys widespread international recognition.

He's brought them in from nearby Misrata to block the LNA's advance and has announced the Volcano of Anger operation to defend the city.

Serraj has run Tripoli since 2016 after a UN-brokered deal, which was boycotted by Haftar.

He's backed by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates and casts himself as an enemy of extremism, though opponents view him as a new dictator.

Libya has been fractured since the Western-backed toppling of Muammar Gaddafi eight years ago.

A UN conference is due to start on April 14 in a bid to plan elections and find a way out of the anarchy.

But so far, Haftar has not heeded UN calls for a truce.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.N.

SECRETARY GENERAL, ANTONIO GUTERRES, SAYING: "We will never give up in our support to the Libyan people." According to the UN, the violence has displaced 2,800 people while the Tripoli-based Health Ministry said on Monday (April 9) that dozens have died in the clashes.

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