17 civilians killed in offensive on Derna: UN

Libyan forces, loyal to Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar, gather near the coastal city of Derna. (AFP)
Updated 02 June 2018

17 civilians killed in offensive on Derna: UN

  • Derna is controlled by a ragtag coalition of radical militias, including groups close to Al-Qaeda, hostile to both Haftar and the Daesh group
  • Libya has been wracked by chaos since a 2011 uprising that toppled and killed long-time dictator Qaddafi, with two rival authorities vying for control

TRIPOLI: At least 17 civilians have been killed in an offensive by military strongman Khalifa Haftar’s forces to take the last city in eastern Libya beyond his control, the UN said Friday.
“The escalation of fighting in Derna has reached unprecedented levels during the past week, with fighting further encroaching into densely populated areas,” the UN Support Mission in Libya said.
“Since 16 May, at least 17 civilians, including two children, were killed and another 22, including seven children, were injured in the conduct of hostilities.”
The mission called on all sides to “exercise maximum restraint” after seven civilians were killed and seven wounded by an explosion on May 30 as they were attempting to leave the city.
Haftar’s self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA) launched an offensive on May 7 to “liberate” the eastern coastal city, home to about 150,000 people.
Derna is controlled by a ragtag coalition of radical militias, including groups close to Al-Qaeda, hostile to both Haftar and the Daesh group.
The coalition, the Mujahedeen Shoura Council, was formed to drive Daesh from the city in 2015, after it had taken over Derna the previous year.
Haftar’s forces entered the city’s suburbs last week and have tightened the noose on their opponents with the help of airstrikes and heavy artillery.
LNA forces have besieged Derna for nearly two years, making it difficult for residents to access humanitarian aid.
The UN mission warned that “severe food and medicine shortages continue to worsen” and said “electricity and water are intermittently cut off.”
Libya has been wracked by chaos since a 2011 uprising that toppled and killed long-time dictator Qaddafi, with two rival authorities vying for control.
Haftar supports an administration based in the east of the country and opposes a UN-backed unity government based in the capital Tripoli that has struggled to assert its authority outside the west.
Four Libyan leaders, including Haftar, agreed Tuesday to hold elections on Dec. 10 after a peace conference in Paris aimed at unifying the war-torn north African nation.
The UN has been pushing for a nationwide poll as a key way to stabilize Libya.


Dozens of Iraqi protestors wounded as anti-government unrest resumes

Updated 21 sec ago

Dozens of Iraqi protestors wounded as anti-government unrest resumes

  • In Baghdad’s Tayaran Square overnight, protesters threw petrol bombs and stones at police
  • Baghdad police said its forces had successfully reopened all the roads that were closed by “violent gatherings.”

BAGHDAD: Dozens of Iraqi protestors were wounded in Baghdad and other cities on Monday in clashes with security forces who were trying to clear blocked roads, security and medical sources said, as anti-government unrest resumed after a lull of several weeks.

In Baghdad’s Tayaran Square overnight, protestors threw petrol bombs and stones at police who responded with tear gas and stun grenades, Reuters witnesses said.

Elsewhere in southern Iraq, hundreds of protestors burned tires and blocked main roads in several cities, including Nassiriya, Kerbala and Amara. They say Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has not fulfilled promises including naming a new government acceptable to Iraqis.

“They (security forces) should stop shooting and aiming, who are they and who we are? Both sides are Iraqis. So why are you killing your brothers?” said one woman protestor in Baghdad who declined to give her name.

Baghdad police said its forces had successfully reopened all the roads that were closed by “violent gatherings.”

Mass protests have gripped Iraq since Oct. 1, with mostly young protesters demanding an overhaul of a political system they see as profoundly corrupt and as keeping most Iraqis in poverty. More than 450 people have been killed.

Numbers had dwindled but protests resumed last week as demonstrators sought to keep up momentum after attention turned to the threat of a US-Iran conflict following Washington’s killing of Tehran’s top general in an air strike inside Iraq.

The killing of Qassem Soleimani, to which Tehran responded with a ballistic missile attack on two Iraqi military bases, has highlighted the influence of some foreign powers in Iraq, especially Iran and the United States.