Humanitarian Truce in Libya & other topics – Daily Press Briefing (16 April 2019)
Meanwhile, the country’s government troops announced their readiness to resist the offensive of forces subordinate to General Khalifa Haftar.
The UN has issued an “urgent appeal” for a two-hour truce in the suburbs of Tripoli to evacuate civilians and wounded. The call came against the backdrop of the continuing offensive of forces loyal to General Khalifa Haftar and seeking to seize the country’s capital.
The UN-backed Libyan Prime Minister Faiz Saraj called Haftar’s actions an attempted coup. Haftar and his troops appear to have entrenched themselves on the outskirts of the capital, but Saraj said government forces were ready to counter them..
United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) calls on all parties to the conflict in the area to respect the two-hour humanitarian ceasefire.
Arab media released a video of Haftar’s troops entering the gates of the closed Tripoli International Airport and taking up positions in terminal buildings and along now-unused runways. Apparently, there was no resistance to the seizure of the airport..
Arab media also showed how residents of the surrounding area of the capital welcomed the arrival of Haftar’s troops. Al-Arabiya, a Saudi TV channel, announced that Haftar’s forces had entered the Khalat al-Fargan area of Tripoli. Voice of America has no independent confirmation of these claims.
Tensions in the region prompted the US African Command to withdraw some of its units from Libya. However, the command, which provides military support to diplomatic missions and counter-terrorism activities in Libya, states that it remains committed to ensuring the security and stability of the state and will “assess the feasibility of re-establishing a US military presence, as appropriate.”.
Haftar’s spokesman, Colonel Ahmad Almismari, said at a press conference on Saturday that the troops under Haftar’s command are fortifying their positions..
According to him, they control the cities of Garyan, Jenduba, Qasr al-Beshir and Suwani. According to him, 14 soldiers who fought with the Libyan army were killed in action.
Almismari said that Air Force planes loyal to Haftar made at least four raids in the area of the Bab al-Aziziyah military complex south of the capital, but there were no casualties. According to him, planes from the neighboring city of Misrata, which opposes Haftar, killed several civilians during a raid on Garyan, which is controlled by Haftar..
UN Secretary General António Guterres (foreground)
In connection with the development of hostilities, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, during a visit to Jordan, said that the UN “will never stop supporting the Libyan people.”.
UN special envoy Ghassan Salame, who is in Libya, said he was closely monitoring the situation.
He said that tensions in several places in and around Tripoli are on the rise. According to him, it is urgent to put an end to tensions in these areas and ensure the safety of civilians..
Meanwhile, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called on the international community to take steps to restore stability in the Libyan capital. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri told his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, who was visiting Egypt, that Libya had gotten out of control after the revolution that toppled Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
Shukri said the situation in Libya in recent years has raised concerns about instability and the spread of terrorism, which puts the Libyan people in ever-increasing danger..
Lavrov called on all parties to end hostilities and begin negotiations. The head of Russian diplomacy said that the international community should not allow the situation to escalate. He called on the belligerents in Libya to stop military operations and sit down at the negotiating table.
UN Special Representative Salame, for his part, considers it necessary “any possible efforts to hold an upcoming conference on national dialogue” in the city of Ghadames, “if it does not become impossible due to the situation on the ground.”.