Libya crisis: General Haftar tells forces to take capital

Libya crisis: General Haftar tells forces to take capital

Libya crisis: General Haftar tells forces to take capital

The growing global pressure on Haftar came as fresh fighting flared Saturday south of Tripoli between the pro-government forces and Haftar's troops.

The sides have been in an uneasy truce since shortly after Gaddafi's downfall but the country now risks falling into civil war.

Diplomats from G7 countries, which includes the U.S., France, Canada, Japan, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom, were working on a joint statement on the fight against trafficking drugs, arms and migrants in Africa's troubled Sahel region, fighting cybercrime and stopping sexual violence against women in conflict zones, especially in Africa.

The order to his Libya National Army posted in an audio recording online came as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited the North African country and issued "a very strong appeal ... for all military movements to stop".

In December Haftar met Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj from the UN-backed government at a conference but refused to attend official talks.

Moscow is closely watching the developments unfolding in Libya and believes that a peaceful, political settlement is the sole way to resolve the situation, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday.

Forces led by Khalifa Hifter, known as the Libya National Army, pushed west toward Tripoli on Friday, after Hifter announced his intention to seize the city.

Militias from the western cities of Zawiya and Misrata, which control Tripoli, said they had mobilised to confront Haftar.

Both countries have provided support to Gen Haftar. Guterres has insisted that Libya needs a political solution, not a military one, and said the U.N.is available to facilitate a peace process. It's one of the largest units Haftar has deployed to march on Tripoli.

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Haftar, who has seized much of eastern Libya, backs a rival administration and has repeatedly vowed to seize Tripoli and "cleanse" it of "terrorists and mercenaries".

Haftar's troops have moved into the southern outskirts of Tripoli in a unsafe thrust against the UN-backed government that has caused alarm among Western capitals.

The situation in Libya has been tense since 4 April, when the Libyan National Army, led by Khalifa Haftar, started an offensive to rid Tripoli of militants.

"I'm leaving Libya with deep concern and with a heavy heart", said Antionio Guterres.

Most of the pro-Haftar fighters who briefly captured the checkpoint late on Thursday were militiamen from the rival town of Sabratha further west along the Mediterranean coast.

The alliance said it had named its operation "Ouadi Doum II" after an airbase in northern Chad where Libyan forces commanded by Haftar, then still loyal to Gaddafi, suffered a major reverse at the hands of the French air force in 1986.

"We were stabbed in the back", he said Saturday in televised comments, adding that his forces would confront Hifter's troops with "force and determination".

Several governments and organisations urged de-escalation, including those known to be Haftar's key backers, such as France and the United Arab Emirates, without specifically mentioning the commander.

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