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Tuesday 20th March 2018

Libya’s Violence Hits Climax After Trump - Haftar Phone Call


7Dnews London

Sun, 21 Apr 2019 03:25 GMT

Loud sounds of shelling in the southern districts of the Libyan capital Tripoli was heard on Saturday April 20th as intensive clashes erupted, according to residents.

And the death toll rose to close to 220 from two consecutive weeks of fighting between the country's two rival governments, Reuters reported.

The spike in violence has taken place following what the White House had said on Friday April 19th, and when President Donald Trump had spoken by phone earlier in the week with Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar, who started an offensive against Tripoli on April 3. The disclosure of the call, and a US statement that it "recognized field marshal Haftar's significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya's oil resources" has boosted Haftar, and his supporters, and enraged his opponents.

Western powers and the Gulf have also been divided over a push by Haftar's forces to seize Tripoli, undermining calls by the United Nations for a ceasefire.

On Saturday, April 20th, shelling was louder and more frequent than in previous days, and audible even in central districts more than 10 km (6 miles) away from the frontline, according to residents.

On Friday, April 19th, two children were killed in shelling in southern Tripoli, residents said. The fighting has killed 220 people and wounded 1,066, the World Health organization (WHO) said.

It was unclear why the White House waited several days to announce Monday's April 15th phone call.

On Friday, April 19th, Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said "a military solution is not what Libya needs." He said he supported Haftar’s role in counter-terrorism, and that Washington needed Haftar’s "support in building democratic stability there in the region."

On Thursday April 18th, both the US and Russia said they could not support a UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Libya at this time.

Russia objects to the British-drafted resolution blaming Haftar for the latest flare-up in violence when his Libyan National Army advanced to the outskirts of Tripoli earlier this month, diplomats said.

The US did not give a reason for its decision not to support the draft resolution, which would also call on countries with influence over the warring parties to ensure compliance and for unconditional humanitarian aid access in Libya.

While the Tripoli battle continued, municipal elections took place in seven towns, mainly in the south, the election commission said. In western Libya polls in several communities had been postponed a week ago due to the fighting.

Middle East Africa