Violence flares in Libya ahead of U.N.-backed peace talks

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The United Nations on Saturday condemned a fresh outbreak of violence in Libya, just as rival factions prepare to resume talks on forming a government to halt the country's conflict.

Pro-government forces clashed Friday and Saturday with fighters from the Islamist-backed Fajr Libya militia alliance in Aziziya, a town 35 kilometers west of Tripoli.

Fajr Libya seized Tripoli in August and installed a government and a parliament opposed to the elected legislature and the country's internationally-recognized government, both of which have taken refuge in the country's far east.

Loyalist forces first launched an offensive in March to try to recapture Tripoli, clashing with Fajr Libya militiamen in Aziziya. Earlier this month, four people died in another confrontation.

"We are battling tribal forces (linked to the government) and preventing them from advancing," a Fajr Libya commander told AFP.

And on Friday, 10 soldiers were killed and 40 others wounded in fighting with armed groups in the eastern city of Benghazi, medical and military sources said.

The U.N. mission in Libya (UNSMIL), in a statement, called for "an immediate cessation of hostilities" which it said come "at a time when significant progress in being made" in peace efforts.

Talks are due to resume on Monday in Algiers and focus on the formation of a government of national unity as well as security issues.

UNSMIL voiced concern over Aziziya, "a region whose towns have witnessed considerable destruction as a result of intermittent battles".

Many of its residents "have been displaced, abducted and tortured, and they are in dire need of humanitarian aid," it said.

Libya has been gripped by chaos and violence since its 2011 revolution that toppled veteran dictator Muammar Qaddafi, with rival factions battling for control of its cities and oil wealth.

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