The United Nations strongly condemned an escalation of violence in Libya on Monday and urged for fighting to stop following an airstrike east of the capital Tripoli.
In a statement, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged “the immediate halt of all military operations in order to de-escalate the situation and prevent an all-out conflict.”
Guterres also said he “strongly condemns the military escalation and ongoing fighting in and around Tripoli, including the aerial attack today by a Libyan National Army (LNA) aircraft against Mitiga airport.”
An airstrike on the airport outside of Tripoli shut down the capital’s only functioning airport. The attack was later claimed by Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar and his LNA, who said they targeted a military plane and helicopter.
Late on Monday, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte spoke with Libya’s UN-backed prime minister in Tripoli, Fayez al-Sarraj, to discuss security developments and the escalation of violence.
The UN earlier urged for a humanitarian pause to allow civilians trapped in the fighting to escape. Their appeal was not heeded, with thousands of people attempting to flee the area.
Read more: Can the EU and partners stabilize Libya?
Libya in chaos
Last week, fighting between pro-government troops and militias in Libya escalated after Haftar’s forces launched a military offensive to capture Tripoli.
The Tripoli-based government has accused Haftar of betraying a UN-backed transition deal that was agreed last year. The deal included holding national elections by the end of 2019.
The authority of Libya’s UN-backed government is not recognized by a parallel government in the east of the country.
Libya has been rocked by violence and deadly power struggles between several armed groups since NATO-backed rebels overthrew dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.
rs/aw (AFP, dpa, Reuters)