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Worldwide community warns Haftar against Tripoli attack

Worldwide community warns Haftar against Tripoli attack

G7 foreign ministers warned eastern Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar to desist from his thrust on the capital Tripoli, menacing the internationally recognized government there, or face possible worldwide action.

General Haftar - who was appointed chief of the Libyan National Army (LNA) under an earlier UN-backed administration - is fighting for control of an area about 30km (20 miles) south of Tripoli near the disused worldwide airport.

LNA spokesman Ahmad al-Mesmari said five fighters from his group had been killed in clashes over the past 24 hours, but insisted that it had made "an important step forward".

Pro-Haftar fighters have been slowed in their advance by forces loyal to Sarraj's Government of National Accord (GNA), which is based in the capital.

Anti-government forces led by Haftar earlier said they had been targeted by an air strike about 50 kilometres south of Tripoli.

The U.N. Security Council on Saturday called on Haftar forces to halt all military movements and urged all forces in Libya "to de-escalate and halt military activity". The LNA called on Friday for Tripoli's militias to disarm.

Late Friday Haftar's men also briefly seized the airport, before being ousted.

Pro-government forces in Tripoli said they had targeted Gen Haftar's forces with "intensive strikes", AFP reported.

At a G7 meeting in France, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said he and his counterparts had agreed they must exert pressure on those responsible for the upsurge of fighting in Libya, especially Haftar.

He added: "Haftar does not have money and arms enough to face Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous forces [the coalition formed to expel Daesh from the central city of Sirte in 2016] and the Libyan army together in the western area".

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"I still hope, if possible, to avoid armed confrontation around Tripoli", he said.

A conference between Libya's warring parties set to start on April 14 is to go ahead despite renewed fighting around Tripoli, the United Nations' envoy said Saturday.

Haftar, 75, was quoted by Al-Arabiya TV as telling Guterres his offensive would continue until terrorism was defeated.

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

The assault coincided with a visit by Antonio Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations, leaving in no doubt Haftar's disdain...

The Zawiya militia is one of dozens that have proliferated since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 and are variously aligned with the UN-backed unity government in the capital and a rival administration in the east backed by Haftar's forces.

With the global community split over Libya, diplomatic solutions appear limited.

"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".

The Libyan commander's opposition to another Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, is supported by Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.