People urged to leave homes as Tripoli comes under heavy exchange of fire

The Libyan Government of National Accords said Haftar's forces used foreign planes to carry out air strikes. (AFP/File)
Updated 28 April 2019
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People urged to leave homes as Tripoli comes under heavy exchange of fire

  • A GNA spokesperson said none of the strikes hit military targets
  • WHO reported that at least 278 people died in the clashes in Tripoli

TRIPOLI: Air raids were carried out on Saturday night on the Libyan capital Tripoli, according to AFP journalists and residents who heard loud explosions.

The exact locations of the strikes were not known, but
the roar of airplanes over the city was accompanied by heavy explosions between 11 p.m. and midnight.

“We are hearing sustained, uninterrupted fire” from machine guns and anti-aircraft guns “and occasional airstrikes, but we do not know where exactly,” a resident of west Tripoli told AFP.

“On Facebook, users are saying that you must leave your house if you live near a barracks or a place where armed groups have taken position,” she added. “But we are afraid to go out into the street so late at night.”

Forces loyal to the UN-recognized government of national unity — Government of National Accord (GNA) —  and fighters under commander Khalifa Haftar, have been engaged in battle for three weeks.

After GNA forces launched a counter-attack last weekend, the International Committee for the Red Cross warned that residential areas of Tripoli were being turned into battlefields.

 

Casualties

Tripoli claims that the air raids have killed four people and wounded 20 others.

“Several sites were targeted by airstrikes late Saturday night, causing victims among civilians,” the source told AFP.

Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) launched an offensive against Tripoli, the seat of the GNA, on April 4.

At least 278 people have been killed and more than 1,300 wounded in the clashes, according to a toll released Wednesday by the World Health Organization.

Haftar’s offensive has sharpened fault lines in policy toward Libya among world powers.

On April 18, Russia and the US opposed a British bid backed by France and Germany at the UN Security Council to demand a cease-fire in the North African country.

“This criminal conceals his failures and those of his soldiers at the gates of Tripoli by resorting to foreign aviation to hit unarmed civilians in the city,” spokesman Mohanad Younes said on the GNA’s official Facebook page.

The White House revealed the next day that US President Donald Trump had reached out personally to Haftar in a phone call, during which the US president “recognized Field Marshal Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources.”

At least 278 people have been killed and more than 1,300 wounded in the clashes, according to the World Health Organization.

More than 35,000 people have been forced to flee their homes, according to the UN.

Most of the fighting happens on the ground, but there are occasional air raids.

The country has been mired in chaos since the NATO-backed uprising that deposed and killed Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.


Militant rocket fire kills 12 civilians in Syria: state media

Updated 48 min 1 sec ago
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Militant rocket fire kills 12 civilians in Syria: state media

  • Former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham being blamed for the attack

DAMASCUS: Rocket fire has killed 12 civilians in a regime-held village in northwestern Syria, state news agency SANA has said blaming former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham for the attack.

SANA said 15 people were also wounded late Sunday in the attack on Al-Wadihi village south of Aleppo city and said HTS, which controls parts of Aleppo’s countryside as well as most of neighboring Idlib, was responsible.

It published graphic pictures purporting to show some of the victims in a hospital in the aftermath of the attack, including of bandaged men and children lying on stretchers, thick blankets covering their bodies.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the same death toll — saying five children were among those killed — and also blamed militants based in rural Aleppo for the attack.

But the Britain-based monitor did not specify whether HTS or other allied militant groups were responsible.

The attack came as Syrian government forces have been locked in clashes with HTS fighters in nearby Hama province.

More than 35 combatants, mostly regime forces, were killed on Saturday in battles in Hama’s countryside, according to the Observatory.

Parts of Aleppo, Hama and Idlib are supposed to be protected from a massive regime offensive by a buffer zone deal that Russia and Turkey signed in September.

But it was never fully implemented as militants refused to withdraw from a planned demilitarized zone.

In January, HTS extended its administrative control over the region, which includes most of Idlib province as well as adjacent slivers of Latakia, Hama and Aleppo provinces.

The Syrian government and Russia have upped their bombardment of the region since late April, killing nearly 400 civilians, according to the Observatory.

Syria’s war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with the repression of anti-government protests.