Libya govt forces overrun Tripoli militia headquarters

A damaged van lies on a road in the Hay Al-Andalus neighborhood of the Libyan capital Tripoli following clashes between rival armed groups. (AFP)
Updated 16 March 2017
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Libya govt forces overrun Tripoli militia headquarters

TRIPOLI: Forces loyal to Libya’s UN-backed unity government seized the headquarters of a rival militia on Wednesday in a third day of intense fighting for control of Tripoli.

The capital has seen exchanges of rocket and artillery fire between unity government forces and a militia loyal to former Prime Minister Khalifa Ghweil.
Since taking power from Ghweil’s administration in March 2016, the Government of National Accord (GNA) has secured the backing of powerful militias in the capital, but some districts remain outside its control.
Ghweil refuses to recognize the GNA’s authority.
Government forces launched an assault on his headquarters in the Guest Palace, a complex of luxury villas in the city center, and overran it after heavy fighting.
“It’s over. Ghweil’s forces have pulled out and GNA forces have taken control of the area,” a witness told AFP.
A security source confirmed the militia’s withdrawal, but had no immediate word on any casualties.
It was the third straight day of fighting between government forces and the militia, who are mainly drawn from Ghweil’s hometown, third city Misrata.
Gunfire and explosions were heard from multiple parts of the capital.
A rocket hit the Al-Khadhra Hospital without causing any casualties, a medic said.
Gunmen stormed the headquarters of Al-Nabaa television, a privately owned channel known for its conservative leanings, witnesses said.
The channel remained off the air on Wednesday. The fighting brought life in the capital to a standstill, with schools and shops closed.
UN Libya envoy Martin Kobler on Tuesday tweeted an appeal for an “immediate cease-fire,” saying the fighting put civilians at “grave risk.”
Clashes erupted in the neighborhoods of Hay Al-Andalus and Gargaresh on Monday evening, prompting the government to deploy tanks.
Tripoli’s GNA-allied police said security forces in Tripoli were battling “outlaw groups that are destabilizing security and inciting chaos.”
“It was our duty to eradicate them and fight them to stabilize the capital,” the police added.
Heavy fighting has also rocked the east of Libya where forces loyal to military strongman Khalifa Haftar announced their recapture of two key oil ports on Tuesday.


Beirut praises ‘progress’ on maritime border dispute

Updated 21 May 2019
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Beirut praises ‘progress’ on maritime border dispute

  • Israel and Lebanon both claim ownership of an 860-square-kilometer area of the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Lebanon insists that the area lies within its economic zone and refuses to give up a single part of it

BEIRUT: Lebanon has hinted that progress is being made in efforts to resolve its maritime border dispute with Israel following the return of a US mediator from talks with Israeli officials.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield returned to Lebanon following talks in Israel where he outlined Lebanese demands regarding the disputed area and the mechanism to reach a settlement.

The US mediator has signaled a new push to resolve the dispute after meetings with both Lebanese and Israeli officials.

Israel and Lebanon both claim ownership of an 860-square-kilometer area of the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon hopes to begin offshore oil and gas production in the offshore Block 9 as it grapples with an economic crisis.

A source close to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who met with Satterfield on Monday after his return to Lebanon, told Arab News that “there is progress in the efforts, but the discussion is not yet over.” He did not provide further details.

Sources close to the Lebanese presidency confirmed that Lebanon is counting on the US to help solve the demarcation dispute and would like to accelerate the process to allow exploration for oil and gas to begin in the disputed area.

Companies that will handle the exploration require stability in the area before they start working, the sources said.

Previous efforts by Satterfield to end the dispute failed in 2012 and again last year after Lebanon rejected a proposal by US diplomat Frederick Hoff that offered 65 percent of the disputed area to Lebanon and 35 percent to Israel. Lebanon insisted that the area lies within its economic zone and refused to give up a single part of it.

Satterfield has acknowledged Lebanon’s ownership of around 500 sq km of the disputed 850 sq km area.

Lebanon renewed its commitment to a mechanism for setting the negotiations in motion, including the formation of a tripartite committee with representatives of Lebanon, Israel and the UN, in addition to the participation of the US mediator. Beirut also repeated its refusal to negotiate directly with Israel.

Two months ago, Lebanon launched a marine environmental survey in blocks 4 and 9 in Lebanese waters to allow a consortium of French, Italian and Russian companies to begin oil and gas exploration in the area.