Fighting flares on Tripoli outskirts

Forces allied to the Tripoli-based government check the vehicles which were confiscated from Haftar's troops in Zawiya

Haftar, commander of the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA), launched an offensive on Thursday to take the capital, held by a UN-backed unity government and an array of militias.

In a press briefing on Sunday from Tripoli, Libyan Army spokesman Mohammed Gununu said his forces have firm and accurate tactics that will foil all attacks by Haftar's forces on Tripoli. "We have formed an operative staff including units of the armed forces and the interior ministry".

He did not provide details on the number of US troops that have been withdrawn or how many remain in the country.

In a televised address the head of the UN-backed government, Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, accused General Haftar of launching a coup.

It's still unclear how much this is a show of force to bolster Gen Haftar's position or a genuine effort to seize Tripoli.

Tripoli is the home of Libya's internationally recognised government, which has the backing of the UN.

The LNA reached the southern outskirts of the capital on Friday and says it took the former global airport, though the Tripoli military officials deny this. It answers to the authorities based in eastern Libya, who are at odds with the UN-backed government.

The self-styled Libyan National Army, led by Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter, launched a surprise offensive against the capital last week, a move that could potentially drag the country back into civil war. A spokesman for the LNA earlier said that the Tobruk-based forces will shoot down any aircraft flying in the Tripoli area.




UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during his visit to Ain Zara Detention center in Tripoli, Libya.

The strike came shortly after the rival UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) announced a counteroffensive to defend Tripoli from Haftar's forces.

Despite the Tripoli flare-up, United Nations envoy Ghassan Salame insisted the April 14-16 talks in the Libyan city of Ghadames would go ahead.

A similar stance was taken by the UN Security Council which, following a closed-door emergency meeting Friday, said those responsible for re-igniting the conflict will be held responsible.

Hifter then gave orders for his forces to march on Tripoli, even as UN Secretary General António Guterres was in the Libyan capital preparing for a much-anticipated reconciliation conference between the warring sides meant to pave the way for long-delayed elections.

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

Haftar is "motivated by personal interests and his own delusions" and is trying to "plunge the country into a cycle of violence", said Sarraj.

"Despite the crisp air of Dinard, we couldn't overcome some of our differences", said Le Drian.

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