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Captured, (allegedly) Portuguese Pilot of the F1 Mirage

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Libyan National Army Downs GNA Jet Flown by ‘Foreign Mercenary’
07 May, 2019


Smoke rises from clashes between the LNA and pro-GNA forces in Ain Zara, Tripoli on May 5, 2019. (Reuters)

Asharq Al-Awsat

The Libyan National Army (LNA), commanded by Khalifa Haftar, downed south of the capital on Tuesday a fighter jet belonging to the Government of National Accord (GNA) and that was flown by a foreign mercenary.

The Mirage F1 was downed in Al-Hira region, 70 kilometers (43 miles) south of Tripoli, the LNA said on its Facebook page.

The LNA media unit released photographs of what it said was the pilot receiving medical treatment while seated on a chair.

Video posted on social media showed the pilot, looking groggy and wearing a blood-soaked T-shirt and khaki jacket, being questioned in English.

Asked his name, he said what sounded to be Jimmy Rees but his answer was not clear. He gave his age as 29 and said he was “from Portugal”.

In Lisbon, the Portuguese Defense Ministry and they could not confirm the pilot’s nationality.

“For now, the only thing we can say is that he is not a Portuguese soldier,” a ministry spokeswoman told Reuters.

Asked about the incident by AFP, a spokesman for the Portuguese defense ministry said the country's "air force has no missing pilots, is not currently on a mission in Libya and does not have a Mirage F1 in its fleet".

A spokesman for forces aligned with the GNA which is based in Tripoli had no immediate comment on the incident.

Residents of Gharyan, about 80 km (50 miles) south of Tripoli, said that when the plane was heard overhead, anti-aircraft fire opened up. There was an explosion as it was hit.

“The jet was shot down in Al-Hira town (10 km from Gharyan) and I saw LNA troops capturing the pilot,” a Gharyan resident told Reuters.

 

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Libya’s Sarraj Turns to Europe for Support against LNA March
Wednesday, 8 May, 2019


Italian PM Giuseppe Conte, left, welcomes GNA chief Fayez al-Sarraj as they meet at Palazzo Chigi, Rome, Italy, Tuesday, May 7, 2019. (AP)

Cairo – Khaled Mahmoud

Head of the Government of National Accord (GNA) Fayez al-Sarraj held talks in Italy on Tuesday with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte as part of efforts to garner European support against the Libyan National Army’s (LNA) march on the capital, Tripoli.

Conte was clear in condemning the “aggression” against Tripoli, said a statement from Sarraj’s office after the talks in Rome.

He urged whom he described as “Italian friends” to exert greater efforts to counter the offensive given that Italy’s standing and international weight can create a “positive change.”

For his part, Conte reiterated his government’s support for the GNA, adding that there can be no military solution to the crisis in Libya. He hoped that parties would return to political dialogue.

He also revealed that he was seeking to soon meet with LNA commander Khalifa Haftar.

Later on Tuesday, Sarraj held talks in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"The Chancellor has called for a return to a political process under the aegis of the United Nations," Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement.

"She has welcomed the proposal of UN special envoy for a ceasefire in Libya during the Ramadan” holy fasting month, he added.

Sarraj is set to hold talks with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Wednesday and later visit Britain.

On the ground, the LNA downed south of the capital on Tuesday a fighter jet belonging to the GNA and that was flown by a foreign mercenary.

The Mirage F1 was downed in Al-Hira region, 70 kilometers (43 miles) south of Tripoli, the LNA said on its Facebook page.

The LNA media unit released photographs of what it said was the pilot receiving medical treatment while seated on a chair.

Separately, the LNA continued to shell the positions of pro-GNA militias in the southern suburbs of Tripoli as it continued its march on the capital.

The LNA launched an operation to liberate Tripoli of terrorist and criminal gangs on April 4.



 

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Libyan Airlines Says Pilot Kidnapped in Tripoli
08 May, 2019

Troops from eastern Libyan forces are seen in Ain Zara, south of Tripoli, Libya April 11, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

Cairo- Jamal Jawhar

Libyan Airways in Benghazi announced that an armed group kidnapped one of its pilots from his residence in Tripoli on Monday evening.

In a statement, Libyan Airlines said an unknown armed group broke into the hotel room of Captain Nawras Al-Atrash, originally from Benghazi, and took him to an unknown destination. It added that the pilot was kidnapped from an area, which “Tripoli officials claim to be free from terrorism and militias.”

The airlines called on the national army, members of Parliament and the board of directors of the Libyan-African Holding Company for Air Transport, to act fast to secure the pilot’s release.

The Libyan Airlines Board of Directors also urged all pilots working in the city of Tripoli “to be cautious until they return safely to their families.”

Libyan Airways said it valued “all the sacrifices of the National Army” and was seeking to serve “its battle to cleanse the capital of terrorists and spoilers.” But on the back of internal divisions, the company found that there were “premeditated circumstances that stood in the way of the company’s business.”

As fighting continues between the National Army and forces loyal to the government of Fayez Al-Sarraj, observers fear that kidnappings and assassinations on basis of identity may increase in the capital in the coming days against citizens of eastern Libya.


 

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Britain hosts Libya's Al-Sarraj for talks
AFP
May 09, 2019

  • The Prime Minister of Libya's Tripoli-based government met Britain's Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt in London on Thursday
  • Three people were killed on Thursday in a suspected hit-and-run attack by Daesh militants on a town in southern Libya
LONDON: The Prime Minister of Libya's Tripoli-based government met Britain's Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt in London on Thursday, Downing Street said.

Fayez Al-Sarraj has been in Europe this week seeking support against an attack on Tripoli by strongman Khalifa Haftar.

May's spokesman said: "The prime minister has joined a meeting between the foreign secretary and the prime minister of Libya in Downing Street."

No further details were immediately available of what was discussed.

Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) launched an assault on Tripoli on April 4, setting off another deadly escalation in a country mired in violence since the fall of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

Britain has pushed for a resolution at the UN Security Council demanding a ceasefire in Libya but its efforts have foundered amid divisions at the world body.

Meanwhile, three people were killed on Thursday in a suspected hit-and-run attack by Daesh militants on a town in southern Libya, residents and a military official said, the second such attack within days.

In the capital Tripoli, three rockets hit a western suburb overnight close to the heavily fortified UN compound but otherwise there was less fighting than last week as life slowed down with the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Gunmen stormed the southern town of Ghadwa and opened fire before retreating back into the desert, residents said.

The attack came after nine soldiers were killed on Saturday in an attack claimed by Daesh on a training camp for the eastern Libyan forces of commander Khalifa Haftar.


 

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Libyan PM Accuses Rival Leader of Seeking a Coup

May 08, 2019
  • VOA News
Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj leaves after an international conference on Libya at the Elysee Palace in Paris, May 29, 2018.

Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj leaves after an international conference on Libya at the Elysee Palace in Paris, May 29, 2018.

Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj says his rival for power, General Khalifa Haftar, is trying to stage a coup and take Libya by force.
"He's dreaming of entering Tripoli," al-Sarraj told France 24 television in Paris Wednesday.

"This attack must be clearly condemned because it is an attempt to overthrow the (government's) legitimacy and seize power ... the destruction of the (political) process was carried out by the Khalifa Haftar, not the government of national accord and we are ready to return to the political process once conditions are met."

Khalifa Haftar, center, the military commander who dominates eastern Libya, leaves after an international conference on Libya at the Elysee Palace in Paris, May 29, 2018.

Khalifa Haftar, center, the military commander who dominates eastern Libya, leaves after an international conference on Libya at the Elysee Palace in Paris, May 29, 2018.

Haftar leads a rival government in eastern Libya. His Libyan National Army moved against al-Sarraj's U.N.-installed government last month, but has been bogged down by government forces and their allies in Tripoli's southern suburbs, unable to take the capital.

Some Libyan civilians caught in the fighting have said they don't care who wins, they just want the fighting to stop.

U.N. officials say the fighting has killed 440 people and forced tens of thousands to flee their homes. Many are staying in migrant detention centers.

A migrant woman reacts inside a shelter after it was hit by a shrapnel from an air strike, in Tripoli, Libya May 8, 2019.

A migrant woman reacts inside a shelter after it was hit by a shrapnel from an air strike, in Tripoli, Libya May 8, 2019.

Airstrikes reportedly hit one center in eastern Tripoli Tuesday, wounding two. Another report says a hole was blown in an airplane hangar housing women. A baby came within inches of being hit by shrapnel.

U.N. authorities are also investigating the suspected use of an armed drone by Haftar's forces or a possible third party supporting the general.

The U.N. says whoever used the drone or sent it to Haftar would be violating the arms embargo against Libya.

The U.N. and humanitarian aid groups say the fighting may lead to a new refugee crisis as civilians try to escape to Europe by attempting the dangerous crossing via the Mediterranean Sea.

They also fear terrorist groups, such as Islamic State, will take advantage of the chaos.


 

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UN: 443 Dead, 2,110 Injured in Tripoli Offensive
May 08, 2019
Associated Press
FILE - Mourners gather for funeral prayers for fighters killed by warplanes of Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter's forces, April 24, 2019, in Tripoli, Libya.

FILE - Mourners gather for funeral prayers for fighters killed by warplanes of Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter's forces, April 24, 2019, in Tripoli, Libya.

UNITED NATIONS —
The U.N. health agency says 443 people have died and 2,110 have been wounded in violence in Libya's capital since the head of the self-styled Libyan National Army launched an offensive against Tripoli last month.

With the number of people displaced by fighting approaching 60,000, the World Health Organization said in a tweet Wednesday that it was working to coordinate health services for them.

U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said Wednesday that the U.N. was very concerned about reports that airstrikes a day earlier hit a migrant detention center in Tajoura in eastern Tripoli, reportedly injuring two migrants.

He told reporters the U.N. mission in Libya ``is also deeply concerned about increased cases of arbitrary arrest and abduction of officials, activists and journalists'' and is calling for their immediate release.

 

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Tripoli urges Trump to stop Haftar's backers meddling in Libya
May 10, 2019
Ahmed Elumami

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya’s internationally recognized government denounced its foe Khalifa Haftar as an “aspiring military dictator” on Friday and urged U.S. President Donald Trump to stop foreign support for his month-long offensive on the capital Tripoli.

Military vehicles of members of the Libyan internationally recognised government forces head out from Misrata to the front line in Tripoli, Misrata, Libya May 10, 2019. REUTERS/Ayman Al-Sahili

Fayez Serraj, prime minister of the beleaguered Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), said Haftar’s U.S.-allied backers were turning Libya into a proxy battleground, risking a war with global implications and further mass migration to Europe.

Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), which is allied to a rival administration in eastern Libya, mounted an offensive on Tripoli in early April, saying the GNA was controlled by what it called terrorists, but has failed to breach the city’s defenses.

The United Nations Security Council called on all parties to the Libya conflict on Friday to commit to a ceasefire and return to U.N.-led mediation, said Indonesia’s U.N. Ambassador Dian Triansyah Djani, council president for May, after the 15-member body received a closed-door briefing on the situation.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Serraj said hundreds of Libyans had been killed, more than 40,000 had been forced to leave their homes, and “hundreds of thousands” could flee for Europe”.

“The GNA is fighting an aspiring military dictator — Khalifa Haftar — whose rival government is taking money and arms from foreign actors pursuing narrow self-interest at Libya’s expense,” Serraj wrote.

“To prevent a bloody civil war with global implications, Libya needs the U.S. to help stop other countries from meddling in our affairs,” Serraj said.
“I remain hopeful that President Trump will succeed where previous presidents have failed...Libyans won’t accept another Gadhafi-style military dictatorship.”

Serraj made his appeal a day after the GNA asked 40 foreign firms including France’s Total to renew their licenses or have their operations suspended, a move that placed economic pressure on Europe to stop Haftar’s offensive.

While Serraj’s Tripoli forces have the backing of the United Nations, Haftar has the support of U.S. allies Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, which have helped train his soldiers.

France has supported Haftar as a way to fight militants in a country in chaos since the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The GNA denies Haftar’s accusations of ties to terrorism and says that it was its allies, not Haftar, who drove Islamic State from the Mediterranean coastal city of Sirte in 2016.How closely Washington will listen to Serraj is not clear.

Signaling understanding for Haftar’s offensive, Trump in April spoke by phone to the eastern commander and discussed “ongoing countertenors efforts and the need to achieve peace and stability in Libya,” according to the White House.

The statement said Trump “recognized Field Marshall Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources, and the two discussed a shared vision for Libya’s transition to a stable, democratic political system.”

The United Nations has failed to broker a ceasefire after the offensive took it by surprise. Its special envoy Chasan Salaamed has mostly stayed on the ground but his mission has reduced staffing levels, U.N. officials say.

European countries including Italy and France have taken a strong interest in Libya, both because of its natural resources and because of its status as a leading departure point for migrants attempting to enter Europe across the Mediterranean.

Meanwhile on the ground, the frontline around Tripoli have changed little in the past week and fighting has dropped off since the start of the Muslim fasting month of Ramada.

Additional reporting by Tom Miles in Geneva, writing by William Maclean; editing by Angus MacSwan and Jonathan Oatis

 

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Dozens of migrants drown off Tunisia coast after leaving Libya
Tarek Amara
May 10, 2019

TUNIS (Reuters) - At least 65 migrants drowned on Friday when their boat capsized in the Mediterranean Sea off the Tunisian coast after they had left Libya hoping to reach Europe, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said.

The state-run Tunis Afrique Presse agency gave a death toll of at least 70 people. It was one the deadliest shipwrecks involving migrants trying to reach Europe this year.

“This is a tragic and terrible reminder of the risks still faced by those who attempt to cross the Mediterranean,” UNHCR Special Envoy for the Mediterranean Vincent Cochetel said in a statement.

In the first four months of 2019, 164 people are known to have died on the route, a smaller number but higher death rate than in previous years, with one dying for every three who reach European shores, UNHCR said.

UNHCR said the sunken boat had taken to the sea on Thursday from neighbouring Libya, where renewed warfare between rival factions has gripped the capital Tripoli in the past five weeks.

The Tunisian navy brought 16 survivors to the coast at Zarzis, where one was immediately taken to hospital and the others awaited permission to disembark, UNHCR said.

The Tunisian agency said the boat had sunk 40 miles off the coast of Sfax, south of the capital Tunis and that fishing boats had rescued the survivors.

Tunisia’s defence ministry said the boat had left from the Libyan port of Zouara aiming to reach Italy. Navy units have recovered only three bodies so far, it said in a statement.

Libya’s west coast is a main departure point for African migrants hoping to reach Europe by paying human traffickers, though numbers have dropped due to an Italian-led effort to disrupt smuggling networks and support the Libyan coast guard.

Earlier on Friday, UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch said the United Nations had repeatedly voiced its concerns about the lack of boats to pick up migrants and refugees fleeing from “the horrendous and horrible situation” in Libya. It called on governments to step in.

Although the fighting in Libya has made the situation more difficult for people-trafficking rackets, international aid officials have warned that it could also prompt more Libyans to flee their country.

It was not immediately known from which countries the migrants involved in Friday’s tragedy were from.

According to U.N. agency the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), 2,297 migrants died or went missing in the Mediterranean last year out of a total of 116,959 people who reached Europe by sea.

Some 117 migrants who left Libya in a rubber dinghy in January went missing and most remain unaccounted for, according to the IOM.

Additional Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli and Tom Miles in Geneva, Editing by Angus MacSwan and Catherine Evans

 

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LNA Advances on Tripoli, Opens New Front in Sirte
12 May, 2019


Shell casings are seen on the ground during a fight between members of the LNA and GNA in al-Yarmouk south of Tripoli, Libya May 7, 2019. (Reuters)

Cairo – Khaled Mahmoud

Commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Khalifa Haftar, opened a new battlefront on the advance on Tripoli by sending forces to the coastal city of Sirte.

Military sources told local media that the LNA dispatched major forces to Sirte, the hometown of late leader Moammar al-Gaddafi. They said that the move was part of the LNA’s operations to liberate Tripoli from terrorist gangs.

Haftar did not officially announce the move on Sirte, but the LNA circulated photos that showed its forces heading towards Sirte on Saturday morning.

Forces loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Sirte had denied over the past two days that the LNA was marching on the city. They have since deployed patrols in the city suburbs.

In Tripoli, meanwhile, the LNA continued to make major strides in capturing the capital, by advancing in its southern districts, most notably the al-Aziziya area.

The LNA also carried out air strikes on several militia positions in the Wadi al-Rabih and Ain Zara areas.

United Nations envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame has, meanwhile, been touring European countries in an attempt to reach an immediate ceasefire to the fighting.

He is set to hold talks with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on Monday.

Salame has been calling for a return to political dialogue in Libya. The envoy has remained in the Libya even though the UN mission has reduced the number of its staff in the country.


 

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Reports: Libya’s Haftar Meets US Officials in Cairo
Monday, 13 May, 2019


Forces loyal to Libyan National Army commander Khalifa Haftar. (AFP)

Cairo – Khaled Mahmoud

Libyan National Army (LNA) commander Khalifa Haftar had held talks with officials from the American administration during his visit to Cairo last week, an informed source revealed.

The American delegation included officials from the Defense and State Departments, as well as members of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), the source told Asharq Al-Awsat on condition of anonymity.

The AFRICOM spokesman did not reply to Asharq Al-Awsat when asked to comment about the reports. He instead said that questions should be posed to the State Department.

An official from the State Department told Asharq Al-Awsat that American government officials were in contact with several Libyan leaders, as well as international partners, in order to achieve stability and return Haftar and head of the Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez al-Sarraj, to the negotiations table.

The ongoing fighting is endangering the lives of innocent civilians, destroying the civilian infrastructure and undermining American counter-terrorism efforts in Libya, he added.

Permanent peace and stability can only be achieved in Libya through a political solution, he said on condition of anonymity.

He called on all parties to immediately return to the UN mediation.

Haftar had in April held telephone talks with US President Donald Trump and his National Security Adviser John Bolton in what was seen as a shift in American policy from Sarraj to the LNA chief.

Haftar is expected to soon embark on a European tour that will see him make stops in France and Italy.

Sarraj had last week made similar visits in an attempt to garner support to the GNA and pressure the LNA to stop its march on Tripoli where his government is based.

On April 4, Haftar had launched an operation to liberate the capital from terrorist and criminal gangs.

On the ground, the LNA announced that it had captured the al-Zahra, al-Tweisha and Azizia areas in southern Tripoli.

The developments took place as LNA jets continued to pound the al-Sawani district in Tripoli amid the steady advance of land units.

The LNA has now set its sights on advancing on the heart of the capital “to target the militias of the terrorist criminal Ghaniwa al-Kakali, who will collapse very soon.”

 

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EU Demands Halting Offensive on Tripoli
14 May, 2019

Federica Mogherini (Reuters)

Brussels, Cairo - Abdullah Mustafa & Asharq Al-Awsat

The European Union warned Monday that Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar's offensive on Tripoli represents a threat to international peace.

“The Libyan National Army’s (LNA) military attack on Tripoli and the subsequent escalation in and around the capital constitutes a threat to international peace and security and further threatens the stability of Libya,” AFP quoted EU members as saying in a statement.

The bloc called for all sides in the Libyan conflict to put down their arms and to commit to UN talks, though the month-long assault on the capital shows little sign of ending.

High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, for her part, stressed the need to return to dialogue for the benefit of all Libyans.

She renewed EU’s support for the Libyan Presidential Council (PC), saying there can be no military solution to the country's crisis.

Her comments were made following a meeting with Head of the PC Fayez al-Sarraj on Monday in Brussels. She noted that the attack on Tripoli should stop and all parties should return to the UN-led political process, suggested by UN Envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame.

Sarraj told Mogherini he looks forward for a unified EU position and for the EU to be able to call things by name to help prevent bloodshed in Libya.

“The more the attack persists, the more destructive its consequences will be, not only on Libya but also on the entire region,” he stressed.

He also called on the EU to intervene and stop the violations of certain countries that are providing weapons to the attacking forces, saying this move represents a clear violation of the UN arms ban in Libya.

He reiterated that the battle in Tripoli is between those who want military rule and those who are defending the civilian state, saying any ceasefire talks can be achieved only if attacking forces retreat to their previous positions.

Mogherini later met with Salame, who refused to make any comments before the meeting. Yet, she stressed in her statements on the need for a ceasefire and for halting all military operations.

 

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Macron wants to meet Libya's Haftar to push ceasefire: French foreign minister
14 May 2019

PARIS, (Reuters) - President Emmanuel Macron wants to meet Libyan eastern commander Khalifa Haftar to push a ceasefire and resume peace talks, France’s foreign minister said on Tuesday.

Macron last week called for a ceasefire in the month-long battle for Libya’s capital Tripoli after meeting U.N.-backed Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj.

Tripoli is home to the recognized administration but some European countries such as France have also supported eastern military commander Haftar as a way to fight militants in a country in chaos since the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

A day after meeting Macron, the internationally recognized government asked 40 foreign firms including French oil major Total to renew their licenses or have their operations suspended.

“The situation in Libya is extremely worrying because the proposed U.N. roadmap to both parties - and which almost reached a positive conclusion - ... has today failed on the one hand because of Field Marshal Haftar’s initiative and Serraj’s non-initiative,” Jean-Yves Le Drian told lawmakers.

“It’s for this reason that the president wanted to meet one and the other to support the U.N. initiative.”

The French presidency said there was no meeting planned at this stage.

Reporting by John Irish; editing by Matthias Blamont

 

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Aid agencies want UN resolution to protect Libyans caught in fighting
Reuters -
15th May 2019

Aid agencies in Libya called for a UN resolution to support people caught in fighting around Tripoli, where the United Nations says 66,000 people have been forced from their homes and at least 454 killed since early April.

Forces loyal to Libya’s government are defending the capital against an offensive by the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Khalifa Haftar, who accuses the administration of being controlled by terrorists, a charge it denies.

Haftar is supported by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates but denounced by internationally-recognised Prime Minister Fayez Serraj as an “aspiring military dictator”.

As well as uprooting thousands of Libyans, Haftar’s campaign adds to the hardship faced by migrants using Libya’s western coast to set off on perilous sea journeys to Europe.

A report on migrants and displaced people by the “Protection Sector” group of aid agencies, co-ordinated by the UN refugee agency UNHCR, said 3,000 migrants remain in detention centres close to areas of fighting,and the use of medium and heavy weapons in populated areas continues unabated.

“The UN Security Council should adopt a resolution calling for protection of civilians and accountability for serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law,” the Protection Sector said.

It said the European Union should stop hampering search and rescue in the Mediterranean, ensure anyone rescued can go to a safe port as required by international law and stop supporting Libya’s use of detention centres until standards in the facilities improved.

Last week a migrant boat capsized killing 59 people and since the Tripoli clashes began, 871 migrants have been picked up and returned to detention in often unacceptable conditions, according to the UN migration agency.

Charlie Yaxley, a UNHCR spokesman, said nobody should be returned to Libya and returning people there could not be considered a “rescue”.

In Tripoli, the UN-backed government said shelter has been provided to 70,000 displaced people.

Hotels and resorts have been mobilised to receive the displaced, the head of the government Emergency Committee, Othman Abduljaleel, told official Al-Rasmiya TV channel.

Exchanges of gunfire and rockets continue but there are no changes to frontlines around the capital.

On Tuesday, a rocket hit Qaser Ben Ghashir, a southern Tripoli area controlled by Haftar forces, killing at least two people, a local witness told Reuters.


 

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Libyan National Army Shoots Down Sarraj Drone as Macron Seeks to Meet Haftar
15 May, 2019


An LNA military vehicle is seen in Ain Zara, south of Tripoli, Libya April 11, 2019. (Reuters)

Cairo - Khaled Mahmoud

The Libyan National Army (LNA) announced that it has shot down a drone flown by militias loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA) of Fayez al-Sarraj.

LNA media said that the army’s air defenses had downed the aircraft on Monday. The drone was launched from Misrata.

Media reports speculated that the drone may have been manufactured by Turkey.

The LNA had recently accused Ankara of supplying drones to the pro-GNA militias in Tripoli.

The army had launched on April 4 an operation to liberate the capital from terrorist and criminal gangs.

LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari had previously said that both Turkey and Iran have been providing weapons and ammunition to the Sarraj militias in flagrant violation of the arms embargo that was imposed on Libya by the United Nation Security Council in wake of the ouster of ruler Moammar al-Gaddafi in 2011.

Moreover, the LNA press office released photos of destruction of houses caused by GNA barrel bomb attacks in the Qasr bin Ghashir town in the Tripoli region.

Amid these developments, French Emmanuel Macron wants to meet LNA commander Khalifa Haftar to push a ceasefire and resume peace talks, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Tuesday.

Macron last week called for a ceasefire in the battle for Tripoli after meeting Sarraj.

On Monday, the LNA denied claims that it was seeking to withdraw from its positions in the operation on Tripoli.

“This is just a rumor that is being spread by the Muslim Brotherhood Tripoli out of fear that its residents may rise up against them after their fighters have become exhausted on the ground,” it said.

“The army will not retreat and the day of victory against the Brotherhood and their backers is near,” it stressed, calling on the people to rise up against them.


 
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