Heavy fighting in Tripoli

83

Heavy fighting raged in the Libyan capital on Saturday as eastern forces pushed to advance inside the city controlled by the internationally recognised government.

The Libya National Army (LNA) force of Khalifa Haftar, allied to a parallel government in the east, started an offensive to take Tripoli almost two months ago but has not breached the city’s southern defences.

The LNA made a new push on Saturday, trying to advance from the former airport – located in a southern suburb – towards the centre but there was no progress, residents said.

Fighting slowed in recent weeks during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan when most people fast until sunset.

The battle for Tripoli has killed at least 510, forced 75,000 from their homes, trapped migrants in detention centres and flattened some southern suburbs. It also forced closure of schools, split families on different sides of the front line, and brought power cuts.

Two ambulance workers were killed and three wounded last week when their ambulances were hit, the World Health Organisation said. It did not say who was responsible.

The United Nations has been unable to negotiate a ceasefire. France, like other European countries, called for a ceasefire but also supported Haftar as a way to fight Islamist militants in the country.

On Wednesday, Haftar, meeting French President Emmanuel Macron, ruled out a ceasefire and said he wanted to rid the capital of militias “infesting” the UN-backed government of Premier Fayez al-Serraj, a French presidential official said.