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Haftar’s forces hit military camp of militia allied to UN-backed government

Mahmud Turkia, AFP | A Libyan fighter loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA) fires a machine gun during clashes with forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar south of the capital Tripoli's suburb of Ain Zara, on April 10, 2019.

A war plane belonging to the eastern Libyan forces on Friday blasted a military camp of a force allied to the UN-backed government near the western town of Zuwara, an eastern military source and residents said.

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The air strike is the closest yet to an oil and gas facility since Khalifa Haftar's eastern forces started an offensive on the Libyan capital Tripoli a week ago.

Zuwara is near the Mellitah oil and gas plant, jointly operated by Italy's ENI and state oil firm NOC, which supplies Italy with gas through the Greenstream pipeline.

This comes at a time when explosions and gunfire have been echoing through the Libyan capital. More than 8,000 people have fled fighting around Tripoli, half of whom have been displaced over the last two days, the United Nations said on Friday.

“Displacements from areas affected by the clashes in an around Tripoli continue to surge,” UN spokesman Rheal Leblanc told reporters in Geneva.

Shortage of supplies

Aside from those who have fled, Leblanc said that “many families remain stranded inside conflict affected areas,” with safety fears rising and supplies running short.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi appealed on Friday for the urgent evacuation of 1,500 refugees and migrants caught in Libyan conflict, saying that the risks to their lives “are growing by the hour”.

The Libyan National Army (LNA) force of military strongman Haftar has launched an offensive to take Tripoli from the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), intensifying the crisis in the country riven by divisions since the NATO-backed overthrow of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

'Haftar has become the key player in Libya'

Dozens of people have been killed over the past week and more than 300 have been wounded, according to the World Health Organization.

As the sound of fighting echoed round their city, residents sought to buy supplies.

'We are used to wars'

"We have got used to wars." said Yamim Ahmed, 20, who works in a fast food restaurant.

Speaking by phone from Tripoli, WHO’s representative in Libya Jaffar Hussain Syed told reporters that the “fighting is closing (in) from the outskirts to inside of Tripoli”

“Our fear is that there will be more civilian casualties,” he said.

Haftar’s advance has triggered mounting global alarm, with the UN warning the situation could spiral out of control.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

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