New clashes in Libya despite UN ceasefire call

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File photo of clashes in Tripoli.
File photo of clashes in Tripoli.

TRIPOLI — Rival forces clashed in the Libyan capital Thursday, witnesses and pro-Government of National Accord (GNA) forces said, a day after a UN Security Council resolution called for a "lasting ceasefire".

Flights were again suspended at Mitiga, Tripoli's sole functioning airport, following rocket fire, as fighting broke out between forces loyal to the GNA and fighters of strongman Khalifa Haftar in the capital's south.

Witnesses heard explosions in the largely agricultural area of Machrou Al-Hadhba about 30 kilometers (18 miles) south of the Tripoli city center.

Rockets also struck residential neighborhoods leaving some wounded, according to the same sources.

GNA spokesman Moustafa Al-Mejii confirmed fighting had broken out in the suburb, which is dotted with farms.

Mejii accused forces loyal to eastern Libya-based Haftar of having repeatedly violated the fragile truce since Jan. 12.

"Haftar's militias tried to advance in the region of Machrou Al-Hadhba, but our forces repelled the attack," he said.

Despite the truce, there has been sporadic fighting almost every day near Tripoli, and arms continue to flow into the country.

The UN Security Council adopted on Wednesday a resolution calling for a "lasting ceasefire" in the conflict-hit country, a first since Haftar launched his offensive to seize Tripoli in April.

The resolution called for continued negotiations by a joint military commission set up in January between the two sides, with the goal of achieving a "permanent ceasefire".

This would include a monitoring system, a separation of forces and confidence-building measures.

The commission's Geneva meeting ended Saturday without a resolution, but the UN proposed resuming talks from Feb. 18.

More than 1,000 people have died in the clashes between Haftar and the GNA, while another 140,000 have been displaced, according to the UN. — AFP


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