2019 Western Libya offensive

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2019 Western Libya offensive
Part of Second Libyan Civil War and 2016–19 West Libya clashes
Western Libya Operation (2019).png
Map showing the Libyan National Army's offensive within western Libya

     Libyan National Army control      Government of National Accord control

     Amazigh/Berber control
Date4 April 2019 – present
(2 weeks and 6 days)
Location
Western Libya
Status Ongoing
Belligerents

Libya Government of National Accord

Misrata militias[4]
Zawiya militias[1]
Supported by:
 Turkey (per LNA)[5]
 Qatar (per LNA)[6]
 Sudan (per LNA)[7]

Libya House of Representatives

Supported by:
 France
(per GNA)[10][11][12]
 Saudi Arabia[13]
 Egypt[14][15][16]
 United Arab Emirates (per GNA)[14][11]
 Russia[13]
Commanders and leaders

Presidential Council:

Emad al-Tarabelsi[2]
Atef Braqeek
Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar
Maj. Gen. Abdulrazek al-Nadoori[17]
Maj. Gen. Abdul Salam al-Hassi
Brig-Gen. Ahmed al-Mismari
Ali Faraj Qatrani (after 8 April)
Casualties and losses

98+ killed[18]
Unknown number captured[19][20]
1 L-39 lost (per LNA)[21]


1 Mirage F1 lost [22]
145+ killed[23][24]
228–240 captured[25][26][27]
1 MiG-23 lost[28][29]
21 civilians killed, 69 wounded[30]
243 combatants killed, 1,197 wounded[30]
264 killed overall, 1,266 wounded,[30] 32,100 displaced[31]

The 2019 Western Libya offensive, code-named "Operation Flood of Dignity",[32] is a military campaign by the Libyan National Army under Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, which represents the Libyan House of Representatives, to capture the western region of Libya and eventually the capital Tripoli held by the UN Security Council-recognised Government of National Accord.[33] It began on 4 April 2019,[34] just ten days before the Libyan National Conference for organising presidential and parliamentary elections in Libya had been planned to take place,[35] and five days after the first session of the 2019 Libyan local elections was held successfully.[36] War crimes and crimes against humanity that take place during the conflict are covered by the mandate of the International Criminal Court investigation in Libya under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1970.[37][38]

Background[edit]

Following the overthrow and death of Muammar Gaddafi government in 2011, political and military control in Libya were in a state of flux. Fighting between different factions escalated in 2014, with the House of Representatives, based in the eastern city of Tobruk, being the main political force claiming to be the legitimate government of Libya. The House of Representatives was supported by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army. In early 2016 a rival government, the Government of National Accord (GNA), was established in Tripoli with the backing of the UN and several countries.[39] There were multiple attempts to negotiate between the two governments and organise new elections throughout 2017 and 2018.[40][41][42] Haftar and GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj met and spoke with each other twice for negotiations, in November 2018 and February 2019.[43]

Face-to-face consultations with 7,000 Libyans and online consultations with 130,000 Libyans during 2018–2019, coordinated by the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, led to a plan to hold the Libyan National Conference in Ghadames during 14–16 April 2019 in order to recommend to the Libyan House of Representatives and High Council of State methods and dates for holding 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections in Libya.[35] The first batch of the 2019 municipal elections in Libya took place on 30 March 2019.[36] Other aims of the conference, to which representatives of all political factions were invited, included creating a unity government between Sarraj and Haftar and proposing a framework for creating a new constitution.[8] In March 2019, the advance of Haftar's forces in southern Libya during the preceding few months started to cause concern for the organisers of the conference.[44] Ghassan Salamé, head of UNSMIL, stated on 4 April 2019 that the conference would be postponed because of the outburst of military events, but that it would be held

"as soon as possible because we do not have the right to allow this historic opportunity to be corrupted. At the same time, we cannot ask for the presence of the Conference, with the [cannons] firing and the raids ongoing, without making sure that all those who are willing to respond to this historic national duty from all regions of the country are able to ensure their safety and freedom by expressing their opinion."[35]

On 4 April 2019, an audio recording was published on Facebook by Marshal Haftar declaring war on the UN-recognised Government of National Accord and announcing that the LNA would militarily take over the capital city Tripoli.[45]

In response, the government in Tripoli, led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and the Presidential Council ordered a general mobilisation of all of its security forces.[46][47]

International (non-UNSMIL)[edit]

From early 2015, during the years prior to the April 2019 attack on Tripoli, Haftar received long-term support from French authorities, including French "advisers, clandestine operatives, and special forces"[48] helping the LNA's military operations in the east and south of Libya.[49][50] Three of the French special-forces soldiers died in a helicopter accident near Benghazi in July 2016.[48] Bloomberg News stated that the al-Sarraj administration had long-term support from Italian authorities.[49] The Economist argued that a May 2018 meeting between al-Sarraj and Haftar, hosted by French president Emmanuel Macron in the context of French-Italian rivalry with regards to Libya, "undermined" the efforts of Ghassan Salamé in facilitating the organising of the Libyan National Conference by Libyans. The Economist pointed to the Greenstream pipeline natural gas pipeline and French and Italian crude oil interests in Libya as significant factors in the two countries' relations with Libyan political forces in 2018.[51]

Bloomberg News described Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates as "backers" of Haftar.[49] Prior to the LNA attack on Tripoli, the Saudi Arabian government gave twenty million US dollars to the LNA in support of the attack, "to buy the loyalty of tribal leaders, recruit and pay fighters, and other military purposes."[52]

The campaign[edit]

April[edit]

4 April

On the first day of the offensive, 4 April 2019, the LNA captured Gharyan.[53] Haftar urged pro-GNA militias to surrender, saying "Those who lay down their weapons are safe, and those who raise the white banner are safe."[54] Interior minister Fathi Bashagha condemned the offensive, declaring that "We will not be subdued by any use of force by any side or any person. And if anyone is willing to use force against us we're ready for sacrifice but we will not give up on democracy which we've always wanted from the beginning."[54]

5 April

On 5 April, the Libyan National Army stated that they had captured Qasr ben Ghashir, Wadi al-Rabie and Suq al-Khamis.[55] LNA then marched toward Tripoli from several directions, reaching the city's outskirts after receiving orders to capture the city.[56][33] The LNA reported asserting control over the town of Azizia.[34][57] The LNA briefly captured a key checkpoint, known as Gate 27, on the road between Tripoli and Tunisia, but withdrew overnight.[58] The head of the GNA Presidential Council, Faiz al-Sarraj, ordered the air units loyal to the GNA to use force against the LNA, in order to "counter threats to civillians."[59] The GNA interior ministry ordered all of its forces to be placed on maximum alert.[60] The United Nations Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting on the same day to discuss the recent developments in Libya.[61] Later in the day the LNA reported capturing the town of Suq al-Khamis, located 20 kilometres (20,000 m) south of Tripoli, after clashes with pro-GNA militias.[62][63] Meanwhile, the leader of the LNA, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, met with UN Secretary General António Guterres in the former's office in Tobruk.[64] During the late hours of the day a battle broke out over Tripoli International Airport, in which LNA forces were able to successfully capture the airfield and defend it from a GNA counter-attack.[65]

6 April

On 6 April, the LNA air force declared western Libya a no-fly zone[66][67] and began to engage GNA targets,[68] after GNA jets targeted LNA positions in Mizdah and Suq al-Khamis.[2] Haftar issued orders against using the LNA's aircraft in battle.[8] The LNA reported recapturing Gate 27,[69] as well as asserting control over Salah al-Din[70] and Ain Zara neighbourhood in southern Tripoli,[71] after pro-GNA militias surrendered to the LNA.[72] By nightfall forces loyal to the GNA launched a counterattack on the airport in southern Tripoli,[73] which was repelled by the advancing LNA, according to Haftar.[74]

7 April

A US military contingent and a contingent of Indian police peacekeepers were evacuated from Tripoli.[75]

Colonel Mohamed Gnounou, the GNA military spokesman, announced that they started a counteroffensive to reclaim the territories in Tripoli taken by the LNA, dubbed "Operation Volcano of Anger". The UN mission in Libya asked for a two-hour ceasefire in south Tripoli to evacuate civilians.[76][77]

In an official declaration, the Ministry of Health of the GNA declared their casualties at 21 dead and 27 wounded.[78]

The LNA conducted an airstrike against a GNA position in southern Tripoli, the Bab al-Azizia military compound,[79] the first LNA airstrike to target a part of the city.[9][80][81] It is thought that Haftar has a superior air force, supplied by the United Arab Emirates,[82] although the Libyan Air Force is nominally loyal to the GNA.[3]

By the end of the day, an LNA spokesman, Major General al-Mesmari, reported that the LNA reached the Fernaj neighbourhood of Tripoli and are advancing through the eastern neighbourhoods of the city.[83][84]

8 April

The GNA airforce launched an air strike on the early hours of Monday on al-Watiyah, the only airbase captured by LNA since the launch of the operation, located 130 kilometres (80 miles) southeast of Tripoli.[85]

As part of the operation Volcano of Anger launched by GNA, Mistrata militias mobilized on the frontlines of Tripoli to prevent the LNA from capturing it.[86]

The LNA withdrew from Tripoli International Airport after clashes with the GNA.[87][88] Fighting over the airport continued after the withdrawal.[89]

The LNA reported capturing Yarmouk Military Camp in southern Tripoli.[90] The LNA used BM-21 Grad MRLs against GNA positions[91] in retaliation for GNA airstrikes.[92] GNA-held Mitiga International Airport was repeatedly hit by LNA airstrikes,[93] reportedly originating from what appeared to be Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21[94] jets based off al-Watiya airbase in western Libya.[95] The airport was closed after the raid.[96] At the time it closed, Mitiga was the only functioning airport in Tripoli.[97]

Atef Braqeek, the commander of the Tripoli Protection Forces, declared that the group was in full control of al-Hira and Aziziyah.[98]

According to Libya al-Ahrar TV as cited by The Libya Observer, a team of French "military experts" arrived in Gharyan and created a "control room to monitor the attack on Tripoli".[99][100]

9 April

The LNA targeted positions of the GNA near Tripoli International Airport with airstrikes.[101] Shortly thereafter, the LNA air force bombed a GNA site in Warshavana, western Tripoli.[102] Fighting resumed near Tripoli International Airport.[103] Several more LNA airstrikes continued hitting the airport during the afternoon clashes.[104] It was reported that the airport closed on 8 April, after it was bombed by the GNA, and also that the Misrata Airport, located 200 km (125 miles) to the east down the coast,[4] was the nearest airport for Tripoli residents.[4][105] A GNA spokesperson claimed that the GNA air force carried out several raids against LNA supply lines.[106] LNA and GNA forces engaged in a battle for control over the road to Tripoli Int'l Airport and Qasir bin Gashir detention center, which at that time housed over 600 people.[107] By the end of the day, the LNA military information division stated that they have taken back control of Tripoli International Airport, as well as captured the neighbourhoods of al-Tueish, al-Sawani and most of Ain Zara.[108]

10 April

The GNA reported bombing LNA targets within the LNA-held town of Gharyan.[109] The LNA announced that they have captured the 4th Brigade Headquarters in the town of Azizya after fierce fighting with the GNA.[110] The UNHCR attempted to evacuate detained refugees from the Qasir bin Gashir detention center, after it became stuck in crossfire between the two sides.[111] Reports suggest most detainees were transferred to Sekah Road detention center, but around 120 people were left behind and were still in the Qasir bin Gashir detention center by the morning.[112] During the afternoon, the LNA air force conducted an airstrike against GNA targets near Tripoli airport.[113] By sunset, LNA spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Ahmed al-Mismari, stated that the LNA have secured al-Yarmouk camp and are advancing toward the Dabali military camp.[114] He also reported that the LNA have arrested pro-GNA "african mercenaries" at Tripoli Int'l Airport.[115] Shortly thereafter, al-Mismari stated that the LNA have shot down a GNA Aero L-39 Albatros that attempted to relocate from Misrata to Tripoli.[116][117]

11 April

The Chief of the GNA Tripoli Military Zone, Maj. Gen. Abdul-Basit Marwan, stated that the LNA were shelling GNA positions in southern Tripoli with BM-21 Grad MRLs.[118] The GNA claimed several airstrikes on LNA targets in Suq al-Khamis and Tarhuna city.[119] The LNA retaliated by launching an airstrike on GNA targets in the contested Ayn Zara region.[120] A GNA spokesman reported that the GNA have recaptured Wadie Alrabie, Bridge 27, Bridge of Souq Al-Ahad and Tripoli International Airport. Brig. Gen. Al-Mismari, LNA spokesperson, reported that the "things on the ground are in favour of the [Libyan National] army," adding that they have seized 14 GNA armoured vehicles and tanks, positioning themselves a mere 2 km from Tripoli's city centre after a GNA retreat. He stated that Tripoli Int'l Airport is "still a fire zone," but did not comment on who controlled it at that time. He also promised to "surprise everyone" with a plan to seize all of Tripoli.[121] The LNA released video footage, allegedly showing their fighters seized abandoned GNA vehicles, after capturing a military base in Ayn Zara and the Al-Azizya region.{[cn}} By nightfall, the GNA claimed that it negotiated the surrender of soldiers belonging to the LNA 8th brigade in Ayn Zara, after they were left without fuel or ammunition for more than a day.[122] The LNA shelled the contested town of Al Swatani.[123] An LNA spokesman stated that the Libyan National Army has issued an arrest warrant for Fayez al-Sarraj, head of the GNA.[124]

12 April

The LNA conducted an airstrike against the GNA in Abdel Samad Camp, south of Zuwarah.[125] Heavy gunfire and explosions were reported from downtown Tripoli.[126] The LNA stated that they have received major military reinforcements, that they have killed dozens of GNA fighters in the previous day's offensive, and that the LNA 9th brigade is advancing in the Al-Khalla region. It also reported that several young GNA fighters defected to the LNA.[127] The LNA air force conducted air raids against GNA targets in Wadi Al Rabie, south of Tripoli.[128] In the late afternoon, the LNA conducted airstrikes against a GNA military camp,[129] as well as an arms cache in the North-East Tripoli neighbourhood of Tajura.[130] Explosions were reported at GNA-held Mitiga International Airport. Conflicting reports emerged as to wether they were from an LNA airstrike[131] on the airport or as a result of GNA anti-aircraft guns firing.[132] The LNA claimed that residential houses and civilian buildings in LNA-held suburbs of Tripoli were subjected to bombardment by the GNA.[133] LNA spokesman, Brig. Gen. Al-Mismari, accused former President of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, of sending two planes loaded with 28 fighters, as well as a large amount of weapons and ammunition, from Khartoum to GNA-held Mitiga International Airport on 28 March.[7] Fathi Bashagha, Interior Minister of the Presidential Council, stated on 12 April that the United Arab Emirates sent military equipment to the LNA at Benina International Airport in Benghazi.[134] The UNHCR called for the release and evacuation of detained refugees held in wartorn areas. The UNHCR confirmed that 728 people were still trapped in the contested Qasir Bin Gashir detention center, stating that it attempted to evacuate them to the Zintan detention center the previous day. The detainees refused to go, insisting that they be evacuated out of Libya.[135]

13 April

Speaker of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives, Aguila Saleh Issa, called for a partial lifting of the international arms embargo imposed on Libya, to allow countries to legally arm the Libyan National Army.[136] He stated that the Tobruk-based government intends to hold elections after capturing Tripoli.[137] The LNA conducted several airstrikes on GNA targets in the southern party of the city, amid intense street battles between the two sides.[138][139] The World Health Organization delivered medical kits to local hospitals, but cautioned that Tripoli only has enough medical supplies for two weeks.[140] GNA forces once again took control of Al-Yarmouk camp.[141]

14 April

The LNA issued a statement, reporting that internationally designated terrorist groups were fighting alongside the GNA in Tripoli. The GNA Presidential Council denied the claims.[142] A GNA plane targeted an LNA military post in Southern Tripoli.[143] President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, met with LNA Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar in Cairo.[15][16] An intensification of LNA air force activity was reported, with LNA Mi-35 helicopters and Su-22 bombers targeting numerous GNA positions in Azizya, Wadi Al Rabie, the 4th Brigade HQ, Al Sawani, Ayn Zara and Tajura.[144] The LNA reportedly made advances toward the center of Tripoli, as well as Salah Al-Din.[145] The LNA recaptured Yarmouk camp, as well as several other military camps in the area and is positioning itself toward capturing the Green Plateau of Tripoli.[146] The LNA was reported to have taken control of Spring Valley Bridge in the south of the capital.[147] The LNA sent military reinforcements to Ra's Lanuf and Es Sider oil ports, in anticipation of a counter-attack by the GNA.[148] A LNA warplane crashed in southern Tripoli.[149] The GNA claimed to have shot it down.[150] A video was later released allegedly showing missiles being fired at the plane, with one hitting the aircraft.[151] Images released from local residents purported to show both the pilot and co-pilot successfully ejecting from the aircraft and deploying their parachutes.[152] LNA Brig. Gen. Al-Mismari confirmed that the aircraft was shot down by a missile, fired by GNA forces from a suburb of Tripoli. He added that the pilot was alive and in good health.[153] He also accused a GNA militia commander of planning to bring over 350 mercenaries to the capital to fight the LNA.[154] Detainees at the contested Qasir bin Gashir detention center told Al Jazeera that they have been abandoned by their GNA guards since the previous day and were left to fend for themselves in the crossfire. They stated that there were still 728 detained refugees residing in the camp. They accused the GNA of subjecting them to "years of much torture and suffering", reiterating their desire to leave the country entirely.[155]

15 April

Heavy clashes were reported between LNA and GNA forces in Tripoli's Ayn Zara suburb.[156] The LNA military information division stated that "large reinforcements" had arrived in LNA-controlled Gharyan and were preparing to join the assault on the capital.[157] A GNA official claimed that more than 3 million books were destroyed as a result of shelling on a building belonging to the Libyan ministry of education. Both sides accused each other of the attack.[158] A new spokesperson for the GNA Presidential Council (the previous spokesman, who was born in Eastern Libya, was replaced without explanation) accused foreign governments and "statelets" of plotting to cause instability in Libya. He claimed that GNA forces were "constantly advancing on all axes", managing to "defeat the aggressor force" and that they were able to "inflict on the [LNA] aggressor militias huge casualty." He also accused the LNA of various war crimes.[159] GNA head, Fayez al-Sarraj, vowed to have all LNA leaders and commanders involved in the offensive prosecuted.[160]

16 April

A video broadcast by Sky News showed GNA forces retreating, after being targeted by the LNA with heavy weapons.[161] The LNA accused pro-GNA militias from Tripoli and Misrata of intentionally targeting civilian buildings with BM-21 Grad MRLs, in order to turn public opinion against the LNA. The LNA also released a video allegedly showing a residential house being destroyed by a GNA barrel bomb airstrike from a warplane originating from GNA-held Misrata Airport.[162][160] GNA forces reportedly retook control of the Al-Zahra bridge in southern Tripoli.[163] Reports emerged of heavy clashes between GNA and LNA forces near Azizya.[164] Several hours prior, a GNA commander had claimed that the GNA had full control over the area.[165] After sunset, Tripoli was subjected to a massive bombardment of artillery shells and missiles for several hours, targeting most areas of the city in what is reported to be the most violent bombardment the city has seen in the current civil war.[166][167][168][169] Pro-GNA media reported that at least 4 civilians had died by midnight, with over 20 more being wounded.[170] The GNA blamed the LNA for the attack.[171] The LNA stated that they had launched no missiles that day and that the bombardment was caused by pro-GNA militias,[172][173][174] whom they earlier accused of undertaking a campaign to turn public opinion against the LNA trough the use of indiscriminate bombardment.[160] The UN envoy to Libya called the event a "terrible night for Tripoli".[175] A UN spokesperson noted that the attack displaced over 4,500 people – the largest single day displacement since the beginning of the war. The spokesperson strongly condemned the attack, stating it may constitute a war crime, but did not assign blame to either party.[176]

17 April

Two GNA soldiers were killed by an LNA airstrike on Tripoli's Ayn Zara suburb.[177] The GNA air force bombed a medical post in Qasir bin Gashir.[178][179] The LNA was reported to have taken up positions 50 kilometres (50,000 m) to the east of Sirte.[180] The GNA conducted an airstrike on Wadi Al Rabea, a suburb south of Tripoli. No casualties or damage is reported.[181] The LNA's 201st battalion received reinforcements in the south of the city.[182]

18 April

Heavy clashes occured between GNA and LNA forces, after GNA units attempted to advance towards the Saadiya area. The LNA air force conducted multiple airstrikes on GNA targets in the area.[183] LNA jets also conducted several air raids against GNA targets in Libya's Wadi al Rabie suburb.[184]

20 April

LNA drone aircraft, allegedly supplied by United Arab Emirates, have struck the GNA military camp in Sabaa district, south of Tripoli city center.[185]

Casualties[edit]

Almost three weeks after the start of the conflict, the World Health Organisation reported 264 dead, including 21 civilians, and 1,266 injured.[30]

Human rights abuses[edit]

Under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1970, the International Criminal Court (ICC) can carry out investigations and prosecutions into claims of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide if the crimes are claimed to occur in Libya on or later than 15 February 2011.[37] As of 6 April 2019, the ICC had two outstanding warrants for the arrest of LNA commander Mahmoud al-Werfalli, for involvement in the alleged killings in and near Benghazi of 33 people during June 2016 to July 2017[37] and for allegedly executing ten people "in front of a cheering crowd" in Benghazi between 23 and 25 January 2018.[186] In reference to the 2019 Western Libya offensive, ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda stated on 11 April that the ICC "[wouldn't] hesitate" to issue arrest warrants for people suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity.[187] On 16 April, Bensouda gave more details, stating that both those directly committing war crimes in Libya and their commanders would be liable to prosecution by the ICC, including anyone "ordering, requesting, encouraging or contributing in any other manner to the commission of crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court".[38] According to Human Rights Watch, both the GNA and LNA military forces had prior records of human rights abuses, with "a well-documented record of indiscriminate attacks on civilians, summary executions of captured fighters, and arbitrary detention" by LNA forces and evidence of abuses of civilians by GNA forces, prior to 4 April 2019 attack on Tripoli.[188]

The family of Firas al-Kikli claimed on 11 April 2019 that LNA forces took him prisoner and later killed him. Images of al-Kikli's mutilated body circulated on social media.[189] Al-Sarraj stated on 17 April that the GNA would provide documentation to the ICC regarding 16 April Grad shelling of residential areas[174] that killed at least seven people and wounded 17,[190] for which he claimed Haftar was responsible.[191]

Reactions[edit]

Domestic[edit]

Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, also the chairman of the GNA's Presidential Council, accused Haftar of betraying them and launching a coup d'état.[43] He believed that his previous meetings with Haftar in earlier months had been bringing genuine progress to a political solution. He stated that "When we hosted the UN Secretary General in Tripoli, we were surprised to hear about Haftar's military mobilization after the progress of the political solution in the country." Sarraj also stated that the government will defend the capital.[192] On 17 April, the GNA Presidential Council stated their categorical refusal of any dialogue that involves the participation of LNA Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.[193]

Colonel Mohamed Gnounou, spokesman of the GNA army since 6 April, announced that the Libyan Army under the Presidential Council was advancing on Haftar's forces to defeat the coup. He also said that "This attack is a surprising one that destroyed the Libyans' hopes for democracy as all of them were preparing for the upcoming national conference in Ghadames."[77]

On 7 April, the deputy chief of the Libyan Presidential Council, Ali Faraj Qatrani, defected to the LNA, resigned from his position within the GNA, and stated that GNA head Fayez al-Sarraj was "controlled by militias". He expressed support for the LNA offensive on Tripoli, stating that it would rid the city of "terrorists and criminal gangs".[194][195]

The Libyan Popular National Movement, which is considered an illegal group by the GNA, declared in a press statement that they support the army's move to end the "militia rule in Tripoli" and salute the sacrifices of the sons of the Libyan Armed Forces.[196]

On 16 April, The advisory council of the Al-Barghata tribe announced it's support of the LNA offensive and rejected any foreign interference in Libyan affairs.[197]

Street protests[edit]

On Friday 12 April, two thousand people protested on the streets of Tripoli and Misrata opposing the LNA military attack on Tripoli. Protestors objected against what they claimed was backing for the attack by France, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, with Misrata protestors burning a French flag.[198][52] The following Friday, 19 April, 2000 people protested in Martyrs' Square, Tripoli, protesting both against Haftar and against foreign power support for Haftar, in particular against that of France.[199][200] Some of the 19 April protestors wore reflective vests that Agence France Presse associated with the yellow vests movement. One of these carried a poster stating, "Surprised by the French response to the attack on Tripoli" ("Surpris par la conduite française face à l'attaque de Tripoli").[200]

Municipal elections[edit]

The head of UNSMIL, Ghassan Salamé, complimented Libyans for holding local elections on 20 April in Brak al-Shati, Edri al-Shati, al-Rahibat, Ubari, al-Garda al-Shati, al-Shwairif and Zelton despite the intense military conflict taking place.[201]

International[edit]

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres stated on Twitter that he hoped for confrontation around Tripoli to be avoided and that the UN was committed to facilitating a political solution. On 5 April, the UN Security Council called on Haftar to stop all movements of his forces.[202]

On 4 April, the United States, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, France, and Italy in a joint statement condemned the offensive.[203] On 6 April the G7 countries stated there was no military solution to Libya's power struggle and urged Haftar to halt the advance on Tripoli.[204]

On 5 April, Egypt expressed its deep concern over the conflict in Tripoli and urged all sides to avoid escalation. Egypt also announced its commitment to UN efforts to find a political solution to the Libyan Crisis adding that a political solution is the only option.[205] On 9 April, Egypt expressed support for the Libyan National Army and its push to dismantle all remaining militias, and also cautioned against foreign intervention in the conflict.[206] On 14 April, President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, met with LNA Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar in Cairo[15][16] and announced his support for the LNA's counterterrorism efforts, stating that "the fight toward terrorism"..."allows the establishment of a stable and sovereign civil state, and will start the reconstruction of Libya in various fields."[207]

On the same day, Russia called on all sides to come to an agreement.[208] The UN stated that the planned Libyan national conference to organise elections would go ahead regardless of the offensive, in Ghadamis on 14–16 April 2019.[209]

On 7 April, the United States withdrew an unspecified contingent of United States Africa Command forces from Libya.[210][211] India evacuated 15 Central Reserve Police Force peacekeepers to Tunisia.[212][211] The UN called for a two-hour ceasefire to evacuate wounded soldiers and civilians.[81][9] Meanwhile, Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that would have called on the LNA to end their advance on Tripoli, stating that any such resolution should apply to all parties and not just the LNA in particular.[213][214]

On 9 April, UNSMIL stated that the Libyan National Conference, an upcoming peace conference in Ghadames, which would have attempted to create a roadmap to new elections, was postponed due to the fighting.[215] The conference was previously scheduled for 14–16 April.[216]

Tunisia increased security on its border with Libya since the start of the offensive.[217] On 10 April, Tunisia fully closed the Ras Ajdir border crossing with Libya.[218]

On Friday, 19 April, the White House announced that the U.S. President had spoken with Khalifa Haftar on Monday, 15 April, stating that Donald Trump "recognized Field Marshal Haftar's significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya's oil resources."[219]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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    Libyaliveumap
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