Libya fighting prompts condemnation by G7 and UN

Forces allied to the Tripoli-based government check the vehicles which were confiscated from Haftar's troops in Zawiya

Forces of Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar said Sunday they carried out their first air strike on a suburb of Tripoli, where loyalist fighters announced a "counteroffensive" to defend the capital.

The LNA reached the southern outskirts of the capital on Friday and says it took the former global airport, though the Tripoli military officials deny this.

The LNA said its forces had advanced into the outskirts of the capital, seat of the internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), and taken its former worldwide airport.

The United Nations called for an urgent two-hour truce for the southern outskirts of the capital to allow evacuations of civilians and the wounded.

The North African country has been gripped by unrest since its longtime leader, Muammar Gaddafi, was overthrown and killed in 2011.

Capitalising on that success, his forces in January launched a new offensive into the oil-rich desert south, ostensibly aimed at wiping out "terrorists" and criminal groups.

The air strikes came as fresh fighting flared Saturday south of Tripoli between the pro-government forces and Haftar's troops despite calls from the worldwide community to halt the military offensive.

In recent months, Hifter's self-described Libyan National Army has swept east and across southern Libya, taking control of areas often without encountering much resistance.

The internationally-recognised unity government, born out of UN-backed talks, has struggled to assert its control.

The Tripoli-based government has declared an attack "on all frontlines" against the advancing troops of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar amid reports of heavy fighting around the city.

He did not provide details on the number of US troops that have been withdrawn or how many remain in the country. In a televised address, the president of the Tripoli-based government said he had been "stabbed in the back" by Hifter after having offered him certain trade-offs to pave the way for a peaceful reconciliation.

Gen Haftar - who was appointed chief of the LNA under an earlier UN-backed administration - ordered his forces to advance on Tripoli on Thursday, as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres was in the city to discuss the ongoing crisis.

The UN's Libya envoy has insisted that a planned conference on possible new elections will still go ahead.

"We want to reassure Libyans that we will stay alongside the Libyan people to make the political process a success without resorting to escalation".

In Libya, the USA backs a United Nations-recognized government.

Vowing to "cleanse" the country of militants, Haftar's forces pushed hardline militias out of the eastern city of Benghazi in 2017 after a deadly three-year battle dubbed "Operation Dignity".

The UN Security Council has called on Haftar´s forces to halt their advance, warning it was putting Libya´s shaky stability at further risk. He returned to Libya in 2011 and joined the uprising against Gadhafi - widely seen as America's man in the opposition.

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