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Libya PM vows to defend Tripoli, rebels approach

IANS  |  Tripoli 

Libya's UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj on Sunday vowed to defend Tripoli as rival forces were advancing towards the capital city from the east.

In a televised address, the Prime Minister accused General Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Army (LNA) of launching a coup, saying his troops would be met with force, reports the BBC.

"We extended our hands towards peace, but after the aggression that has taken place on the part of forces belonging to Haftar, he will find nothing but strength and firmness," he said.

Al-Serraj said he offered concessions to Gen Haftar to avoid bloodshed, only to be "stabbed in the back".

Haftar ordered his forces to advance on Tripoli on April 4. LNA has been carrying out a multi-pronged attack from south and west of the city.

The rebels have reached the outskirts of the capital, and say they have seized Tripoli's international airport.

However, forces loyal to al-Serraj's Government of National Accord (GNA) have slowed the advance. Intensive air strikes were carried out by GNA aircraft 50 km south of Tripoli on Saturday.

Libya has been wracked by unrest since the removal of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Dozens of militias operate in the country who either ally with the UN-backed GNA, based in Tripoli, or LNA, a tough anti-Islamist force, which has the support of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and is strong in eastern Libya.

UN-backed talks, aimed at drawing up a road map for new elections, are scheduled for April 14-16 in the Libyan city of Ghadames.

--IANS

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

First Published: Sun, April 07 2019. 16:34 IST
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