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.


UN hopes for meeting on Syria constitution by late December

US Deputy United Nations Ambassador Jonathan Cohen, left, address the UN Security Council after a report from UN chief mediator for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, shown center in a live video broadcast, on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018 at UN headquarters. (AP)
Updated 21 November 2018
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UN hopes for meeting on Syria constitution by late December

  • Staffan de Mistura said the UN welcomes “constructive and moderate suggestions” to change the list of the disputed 50 members

NEW YORK: The UN is still aiming to send invitations to 150 Syrians by mid-December to participate in a committee that would draft a new constitution for Syria, which is key to holding elections and ending the country’s civil war, a UN envoy said on Monday.
Staffan de Mistura, the UN special envoy for Syria, told the Security Council that the UN also aims to hold the committee’s first meeting before Dec. 31.
But de Mistura said the Syrian regime is objecting to 50 members of the committee representing civil society, experts, independents, tribal leaders and women that he was authorized to put together at a Russian-hosted Syrian peace conference in Sochi on Jan. 30.
Under the Sochi agreement, the committee is to comprise 150 members. There is already agreement on the 50-member delegation from the regime and the 50-member delegation from the opposition.
But de Mistura warned that if there is no agreement on the remaining members, the UN may have to conclude that it is not possible to form a “credible and inclusive” constitutional committee at this stage.
He said the UN welcomes “constructive and moderate suggestions” to change the list of the disputed 50 members. But de Mistura said they must “maintain the same spirit of credibility, balance and international legitimacy,” and he stressed that the list cannot be filled with political leaders who are already represented.
The UN envoy said that at his last briefing to the Security Council in December “it will be my duty to explain where we are on the constitutional committee, and leave a clean and clear ground to my successor regarding it.”
De Mistura was supposed to step down at the end of December but UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Monday he will be staying on “for a bit longer” to make sure there is no gap “at an extremely critical time in the Syria talks.”