Rogue general Khalifa Haftar seizes his chance to besiege Tripoli

Rogue general Khalifa Haftar seizes his chance to besiege Tripoli

Rogue general Khalifa Haftar seizes his chance to besiege Tripoli

The army behind Libya's UN-backed government has announced a counteroffensive to defend Tripoli, vowing to reclaim all areas seized by forces loyal to renegade General Khalifa Haftar, who have been marching on the outskirts of the capital.

Pro-government forces from the coastal town of Zawiya battled them, retook the base and captured more than 100 of Haftar's men.

Fighting is also underway near a key airport outside the city.

"Egypt has supported from the beginning a political agreement as a tool to prevent any military solution" in Libya, Shoukry said during a joint news conference with visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in capital Cairo broadcast on state television.

Italian Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi said Haftar must heed worldwide warnings to halt his advance on Tripoli or else "we will see what can be done".

Saturday's aerial assault came a day after Hifter's forces clashed with militias aligned with the United Nations and the Western-backed Government of National Accord.

Gen Haftar began his offensive four days ago and fighting on the outskirts of the capital has led some global groups to react to the deteriorating security situation.

U.S. forces in Libya have been evacuated for their safety in connection with the deteriorating security situation in the country, which now has U.S. Africa Command conducting "prudent military planning" as it assesses the situation, the military said Sunday.

Hifter also put at risk upcoming peace talks between Libyan rivals brokered by the United Nations aimed at drawing a roadmap for new elections.

A military source was quoted as reporting fighting in the area and two other zones by the broadcaster Al Ahrar.

The head of the UN-backed unity government, Fayez al-Sarraj, visited the checkpoint on Friday accompanied by military commanders.

Haftar on Thursday ordered his troops to advance on the capital.

The chances of a UN-sponsored reconciliation conference going ahead as scheduled on 14 April now hangs in the balance, with forces in Misrata, including the Libyan interior minister, Fathi Bashagha, seen as a moderate, furious at what he regards as a betrayal by Haftar. The LNA controls the East of Libya, running a parallel administration to that of the Tripoli government.

"I still hope it is possible to avoid a bloody confrontation in and around Tripoli", Guterres tweeted.

The U.N. Security Council, which met behind closed doors on Friday, has also called on Libyan National Army forces to cease their advances.

"We were stabbed in the back", he said Saturday in televised comments, adding that his forces would confront Hifter's troops with "force and determination".

The statement added that military activity is "hindering prospects for the UN-led political process, putting civilians in danger, and prolonging the suffering of the Libyan people".

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