France’s President Emmanuel Macron called for a ceasefire in the month-long battle for Tripoli after fighting hit a migrant detention centre.
Foreign powers are aghast at the latest flare-up in a nation divided and chaotic since the 2011 toppling of Muammar Gaddafi, Macron met internationally-recognised Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj in Paris.
“Noting there is no military solution to the Libyan conflict … the proposal was put forward to delimit a ceasefire line, under international supervision,” Macron’s office said in a statement, also backing a UN peace plan and elections.
France has in the past supported eastern Libyan forces commander Khalifa Haftar, who launched an assault on Serraj’s Tripoli base in early April under the banner of combatting terrorism and restoring order.
With Haftar’s troops bogged down in southern outskirts, fighting raged through the night and slowed in the day as the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan began.
Overnight, there was shelling on a camp of pro-Serraj fighters, witnesses said. Shrapnel struck the roof of a migrant detention centre in Tajoura.
Though nobody was wounded at the centre, frightened migrants, mainly from sub-Saharan African nations hoping to reach Europe by sea, pleaded for rescue.
“We have almost lost hope ,” a migrant told Reuters, declining to give his name. “You know Libya is not safe. War here is too much. Please, we need help.”
HUNDREDS DEAD AND INJURED
Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) charity said a hole was blown in a hangar housing women, nearly hitting aninfant. “How many more lives must be threatened before these vulnerable people are evacuated out of #Libya?” it tweeted.
Fighting killed 443and injured 2,110, with thousands forced from their homes, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Fighting has frozen a United Nations’ peace plan for Libya and exposed divisions in Europe and the Gulf.
Haftar, a former general in Gaddafi’s army who turned against him, enjoys the backing of the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. He received military support from France which helped him take over Benghazi in 2017.
France denied it supports the Tripoli offensive, but echoes Haftar’s rhetoric in saying terrorists need to be fought.
Serraj, whose supporters say Haftar is a would-be dictator, met Macron after visiting Germany and Italy.