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UN-backed Libya govt announces counter-offensive against self-styled Libyan National Army, foreign forces evacuate Tripoli

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The army aligned to Libya's United Nations-backed government on Sunday announced a counteroffensive and vowed to reclaim all areas seized by the self-styled Libyan National Army led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.

Addressing media, Al Jazeera quoted Colonel Mohamed Gnounou, spokesperson of Government of National Accord (GNA), as saying that the counteroffensive, dubbed as "Volcano of Anger", was aimed at "purging all Libyan cities of aggressor and illegitimate forces".

The announcement came after Haftar's forces claimed that they had conducted the first air raid on a Tripoli suburb as part of their aim oust the internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) and control Tripoli.

The alleged strike came after GNA forces conducted air raids on Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) around 50kilometers south of Tripoli on Saturday, reportedly killing one person.

Meanwhile, the US military on Sunday said it had temporarily pulled some of its forces out of Libya amid the escalating political tension in the North African country.

On the same day, Anadolu Agency reported that Turkey issued a warning for its citizens traveling to Libya amid the recent clashes in the country.

"Considering the developments in Libya and especially the conflicts around Tripoli, it is recommended that our citizens who plan to travel to Libya should follow the latest developments and review their travel plans in this context," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

India too has evacuated its entire contingent of peacekeeping forces comprising of 15 CRPF personnel from Tripoli after the situation there "suddenly worsened".

"Due to increased unrest in Libya, a contingent of US forces supporting US Africa Command temporarily relocated from the country in response to security conditions on the ground," it said in a statement.

"The situation in Libya has suddenly worsened. There is fighting in Tripoli. Indian Embassy in Tunisia @IndiainTunisia has evacuated the entire contingent of 15 CRPF personnel yesterday itself. I appreciate the excellent work by the Indian Embassy in Tunisia. #Libya," External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted.

Resulting from years-long civil conflict, Libya has no single government currently, with LNA backing the Tobruk-based parliament which governs the East of Libya, and the GNA which controls Libya's western parts from Tripoli.

The UN in a statement noted that Libya's UN-backed Prime Minister, Fayez al-Sarraj and Haftar held talks in Abu Dhabi in late February during which they agreed that national elections were necessary.

"They also agreed on ways to maintain stability in the country and unify its institutions," the UN Libya mission said in a Twitter post after the Abu Dhabi meeting.

Last week, Haftar had also held talks with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in Benghazi, a day after his troops launched an offensive against the GNA government in Tripoli which the Eastern Commander dubbed as 'terrorists'.

Haftar also told UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that his operation towards Tripoli will continue until terrorism has been defeated.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, April 07 2019. 20:08 IST
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