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Libya: Army Intensifies Strikes in Tripoli, GNA Prepares for Decisiveness

Libya: Army Intensifies Strikes in Tripoli, GNA Prepares for Decisiveness

Sunday, 21 April, 2019 - 08:15
Smoke rises from bombing during clashes (AFP / Mahmud TURKIA)
Cairo - Khalid Mahmoud
Clashes intensified around the Libyan capital, Tripoli, between the Libya National Army (LNA) led by Khalifa Hafter and forces loyal to head of Government of National Accord (GNA) Fayez al-Sarraj.

LNA announced it had gained control over “several new sites” inside the capital, and the military information center said in a statement posted on its Facebook page that the forces are advancing, while GNA militias are retreating, indicating that military reinforcements are arriving to various military brigades and army battalions at the earliest.

The media center also indicated that “following Haftar’s instructions, a security room was formed under the chairmanship of Brigadier General Abdul Nasser Masoud. The room handles all security issues within the region in coordination with the western region operations room. Its members are a number of LNA officers and are required to report to the General Command Control Authority.

Meanwhile, GNA forces announced a counter-attack south of the capital and Sarraj called on his forces which he said are preparing for the ‘day of decisiveness’, to take into account civilians stuck in areas of clashes, and protect their properties.

For his part, GNA's military spokesman Colonel Mohammad Gnounou denied the reports that the LNA took control over al-Aziziyah, asserting to German News Agency that GNA took control of the city, located 45 km south of Tripoli, pointing out that the troops are advancing beyond towards Nafusa Mountain.

Meanwhile, Haftar spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari, said the White House statement on President Donald Trump's call with Haftar shows that the United States is convinced of the pivotal role of the army.

Trump’s statement demonstrates the US belief in the pivotal role of the Libyan army in the war on terrorism, Mismari said in televised remarks on Friday evening.

Earlier in a press conference, the spokesman indicated that the forces continue what he called the process of “cleansing” Tripoli of terrorist armed groups, stressing that the operations are progressing smoothly and steadily in Tripoli.

He also accused Sarraj forces of an airstrike on army positions, pointing out that al-Qaeda and al-Nasra Front terrorist groups arrived to Tripoli from Syria via Turkey.

Mismari noted that the army had handed over Tamanhint base to the Interior Ministry of the interim government headed by Abdullah al-Thani in the east after a terrorist attack was foiled resulting in the death of 15 terrorists.

Clashes in Tripoli has killed at least 220 people and wounded more than 1,066 others, announced the United Nations' World Health Organization.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) indicated that over 32,100 people have been internally displaced since the onset of fighting, with over 900 individuals currently residing in collective shelters, and local authorities are setting up additional shelters to receive displaced families.

In related news, hundreds of Sarraj supporters demonstrated in Tripoli and Misrata, protesting the war, where they chanted against the rule of the military. The crowd gathered in the Martyrs square center of Tripoli under strict security measures.

One of the protests coordinators, Faraj al-Takbali told Xinhua news agency that the demonstrations and its growing numbers are conclusive proof that residents refuse to allow the destruction of the Libyan capital.

Protesters wore the French anti-government protests’ trademark yellow vests rejecting the French support of Haftar. The participants asserted their rejection of other countries interference in their internal affairs.

In other news, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) Ghassan Salame denied Saturday evening an assassination attempt in Tripoli through a tweet on his Twitter account, without clarifying the source of the rumor.

“To the lovers I say, and to others also: No! I was not subjected to an assassination attempt: the news is fabricated and the images are falsified. When will the charlatans who are in their burrows understand that the truth they kill every day is the only one that liberates them?” Salame tweeted.

Two weeks after the outbreak of violent clashes south of Tripoli, the UN envoy and his political Deputy, Stephanie Williams, are still operating at the mission headquarters in the capital.

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