Eastern Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar sought to open a new front by moving forces toward Misrata, allied to the country’s internationally recognised government, officials and residents said.
In another sign a shaky truce was faltering, Tripoli’s Mitiga airport further to the west was hit by two rockets, wounding civilians and damaging the runway and buildings, the UN mission to Libya said.
It did not blame anyone for the strike, the second within days. The airport has been used to launch Turkish-supplied combat drones to counter unmanned aircraft used by Haftar’s Libyan National Army provided by the United Arab Emirates.
The increase in fighting comes after the UAE, Egypt, Russia, which back Haftar, and Turkey, which backs the government in Tripoli, agreed with western powers at a Berlin summit to push for a lasting ceasefire and uphold an arms embargo.
Despite peace efforts, the LNA moved from Sirte toward Misrata. Fighting between the LNA and Misrata forces was centred on Abugrain, 120 km east of Misrata, both sides confirmed.
Two LNA fighters were killed and eight wounded, an LNA source said, adding his forces later retreated taking prisoners.
“Battles are raging on all front lines,” LNA spokesman Ahmed Mismari told reporters in Benghazi, blaming Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who sent troops to defend Tripoli.
Haftar launched an offensive on Tripoli in April and made small gains with the help of Russian and African mercenaries.
Erdogan said the Libyan general, who abandoned talks on a ceasefire in Moscow and blockaded oilfields during the Berlin summit, cannot be trusted.
Speaking in Algeria, Erdogan said Libya “should not be allowed to turn into a playground for terrorist organisations and warlords”.
Before leaving for Algeria, Erdogan said Haftar’s forces repeatedly violated the ceasefire. “He’s continuing attacks with all his resources. He will not be successful.”
In Berlin, foreign powers agreed to form a committee of five military officials from each side to shore up the shaky truce. They are due to meet for the first time this week in Geneva.