East Libyan warplanes hit Tripoli government positions

A fighter mans a turret stationed at a position held by forces loyal to Libya's Government of National Accord (GNA) in the suburb of Wadi Rabie about 30 kilometers south of the capital Tripoli on April 12, 2019. (AFP)

Eastern Libyan forces bogged down in street battles in a push to seize the capital Tripoli deployed warplanes on Friday to hit several government positions, as more civilians fled fighting.

More than 1,000 people gathered in central Tripoli to demand that Khalifa Haftar stop the advance of his Libyan National Army (LNA) on the coastal city of about 1.2 million people.

Haftar launched the campaign a week ago, in the latest conflict in a cycle of anarchy since the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.

But forces loyal to Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj’s national accord government have so far kept them at bay, with fierce fighting round a disused former airport about 11 km from the center.

A fighter aims a machine gun through a hole at a position held by forces loyal to Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) in the suburb of Wadi Rabie about 30 kilometers south of the capital Tripoli on April 12, 2019. (AFP)

A fighter aims a machine gun through a hole at a position held by forces loyal to Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) in the suburb of Wadi Rabie about 30 kilometers south of the capital Tripoli on April 12, 2019. (AFP)



On Friday, an LNA warplane bombed the camp of a force allied to Serraj in Zuwara, west of Tripoli towards the Tunisian border, an LNA military source and residents said.

Zuwara is near the Mellitah oil and gas plant, jointly operated by Italy's ENI and state oil firm NOC, which supplies Italy with gas through the Greenstream pipeline.

An LNA warplane also attacked the only partly-functioning airport in Tripoli, Mitiga, where anti-aircraft opened fire in response, witnesses said. The extent of damage and possible casualties in both places was not clear.

A week of battles has killed 75 people - mainly fighters but also 17 civilians - and wounded another 323, according to latest UN tallies.

Some 9,500 people have also been forced out of their homes.

As the sound of fighting echoed round their city, residents sought to maintain some normality on Friday.

Some families were eating in cafes next to the fish market where people were stocking up for the weekend.

"We have got used to wars. I fear only in God," said Yamim Ahmed, 20, who works in a fast food restaurant.

More than 1,000 people staged a protest in Martyrs Square in central Tripoli to demand an end to the offensive, witnesses said. The turnout was bigger than last Friday.

Libyans gather during a demonstration against strongman Khalifa Haftar in the capital Tripoli’s Martyrs Square on April 12, 2019. (AFP)

Libyans gather during a demonstration against strongman Khalifa Haftar in the capital Tripoli’s Martyrs Square on April 12, 2019. (AFP)


As well as the humanitarian cost, the conflict threatens to disrupt oil supplies, increase migration across the Mediterranean to Europe, scupper a UN peace plan, and allow Islamist militants to exploit the chaos.

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Last Update: 11:04 KSA 14:04 - GMT 11:04
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