US’ Pompeo, Egypt FM urge calm in Libya amid Tripoli offensive

This image grab taken from a video published on the Facebook page of the War Information Division of Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army on May 26, 2019 shows fighters loyal to Haftar reportedly advancing on a road south of the capital Tripoli. (AFP/ LNA War Information Division)
Updated 28 May 2019
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US’ Pompeo, Egypt FM urge calm in Libya amid Tripoli offensive

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed the crisis in Libya during a phone call with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry
  • Khalifa Haftar on a visit last week to France rejected a cease-fire urged by President Emmanuel Macron

WASHINGTON: The United States and Egypt, a key backer of Libyan militia leader Khalifa Haftar, on Tuesday called for calm as the strongman pressed ahead in his offensive on Tripoli.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed the crisis in Libya during a phone call with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, the State Department said.
The two discussed “the urgent need to achieve a political solution in Libya and prevent further escalation,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.
Haftar is pressing ahead against the internationally backed government in Tripoli in fighting that has left 510 dead and driven more than 75,000 people from their homes, according to World Health Organization figures.
Haftar on a visit last week to France rejected a cease-fire urged by President Emmanuel Macron.
In an interview with the Journal de Dimanche newspaper, Haftar said he would continue the operation until “private militias and extremist groups,” who he alleged were gaining influence under Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj laid down their weapons.


Syria flare-up kills 35 fighters, including 26 pro-regime forces

Updated 16 June 2019
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Syria flare-up kills 35 fighters, including 26 pro-regime forces

  • Russian-backed regime forces try to retake villages seized by opposition forces and allied fighters
  • The clashes also left 26 pro-regime forces dead in the north of Hama province

 

BEIRUT: At least 10 civilians and 35 combatants, mostly pro-regime forces, were killed on Saturday in clashes and airstrikes that erupted at dawn in northwestern Syria, a war monitor said.

The flare-up came as Russian-backed regime forces tried to retake two villages seized by opposition forces and allied fighters earlier this month, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“Since this morning, the Syrian regime and allied fighters have launched five failed attempts to regain control of Jibine and Tal Maleh in northwestern Hama province,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

Syrian regime airstrikes killed nine opposition fighters, the war monitor said.

Ensuing clashes in the north of Hama province left 26 pro-regime forces dead, including eight who were killed in a mine explosion, the Observatory said.

In neighboring Idlib, regime airstrikes killed 10 civilians, including three children, the Observatory said.

The strikes hit the towns of Maaret Al-Numan and Al-Bara as well as the village of Al-Ftira, according to the war monitor.

The Idlib region of some 3 million people is 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 opposition refused to withdraw from a planned demilitarized zone.

In January, the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham alliance led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate 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 regime and Russia have upped their bombardment of the region since late April, killing nearly 400 civilians, according to the Observatory.

Turkey said on Friday that it did not accept Russia’s “excuse” that it had no ability to stop the Syrian regime’s continued bombardments in the last opposition bastion of Idlib.

“In Syria, who are the regime’s guarantors? Russia and Iran,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told state news agency Anadolu in a televised interview.

“Thus we do not accept the excuse that ‘We cannot make the regime listen to us’,” he said.

His comments came as Turkey disagreed with Russia earlier this week after Moscow claimed a new cease-fire had been secured in the province following weeks of regime bombardments — a claim that was denied by Ankara.

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

Russia launched a military intervention in support of the regime in 2015, helping its forces reclaim large parts of the country from opposition fighters and militants.