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Libyan govt forces tighten noose on rival city amid UN concern

Libya's renegade commander Haftar announces Ramadan truce

Forces aligned with Libya’s internationally recognised government are tightening their siege to capture a major city from rivals, raising United Nations concerns.

Forces of the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) dropped leaflets on the city of Tarhouna, about 90 kilometres from the capital Tripoli, and asked insurgents there to lay down their arms.

“Whoever lays down his arm is safe. The battle has been militarily resolved,’’ the GNA forces said on their Twitter account.

The city’s residents were urged to stay indoors and shun the places where the insurgents are.

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The rival self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Khalifa Haftar took control of Tarhouna following the start of their campaign in April 2019 to seize Tripoli from GNA.

Capturing Tarhouna would be a major victory for the GNA forces, who have recently made territorial gains against Haftar’s loyalists in the western part of Libya.

The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) voiced concern about the military developments around Tarhouna.

“UNSMIL reminds all parties of their obligations in accordance with international humanitarian law and warns against any acts of retribution,’’ the mission tweeted.

Fighting has recently escalated between Libya’s warring sides in spite of international calls for a humanitarian truce in the country to focus efforts on battling an outbreak of the new coronavirus.

Earlier this week, GNA forces seized al-Watiya airbase, near the Tunisian border, a strategic base in Haftar’s offensive to capture Tripoli.

Oil-rich Libya has been in turmoil since a 2011 revolt that toppled long-time dictator Muamar Gaddafi and has become a battleground for rival proxy forces. (dpa/NAN)

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