Over 120 killed, almost 600 wounded in Libya fighting

Clay Curtis
April 15, 2019

On Saturday, the Tripoli-based Interior Minister of the Presidential Council's government Fathi Bashagha accused the United Arab Emirates (UAE) of reportedly sending Haftar military support in "clear violation of the global law".

The self-styled Libyan National Army, led by Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter, launched a surprise offensive against Tripoli on April 5 and is battling rival militias loosely affiliated with a weak United Nations -backed government.

The meeting was attended by Egypt's intelligence chief Abbas Kamel.

Gen Haftar is widely thought to have modelled his muscular leadership style on Egypt's Sisi, himself an army general turned president whose rule is defined by his opposition to and zero tolerance towards political Islam.

Haftar, who was exiled in the United States for two decades, returned to Libya in 2011 when the revolution erupted, commanding forces that eventually toppled dictator Muammar Qaddafi.

During the past week, Eastern-based Libyan forces led by Haftar have been advancing in a push to seize the capital, Tripoli, but troops loyal to Prime Minister Fayez Al-Serraj's internationally recognized government have so far kept them at bay.

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The Libyan National Army (LNA) headed by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar has confirmed the loss of its warplane, noting that the aircraft could have been downed by the rival Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA).

"Three medical personnel have been killed and five ambulances have been incapacitated by shrapnel", OCHA said in a Saturday statement.

The World Health Organization said 121 people have been killed in the fighting and another 561 have been wounded.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said more than 13,500 people have been displaced, and that "significant numbers of civilians" remain stuck in areas where the fighting has escalated.

As well as fighting on the ground, the two sides have launched daily air raids and accuse each other of targeting civilians.

"Our position will not change", United Nations envoy Ghassan Salame tweeted. Sunday's statement on Mr Sisi's talks with Gen Haftar appeared to repeat Cairo's longstanding stance on Libya, but the context in which it was issued left open the question of whether Cairo is sympathetic to the rationale behind the Libyan commander's decision to march on Tripoli, home to a UN-backed government.

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