UN urges armed groups in Libya capital to halt fighting

Rival militias in Tripoli have been trading blows intermittently since late last month

UN urges armed groups in Libya capital to halt fighting

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) on Thursday called on armed groups south of capital Tripoli -- which have been fighting intermittently since late last month -- to immediately commit to a ceasefire.

“UNSMIL calls on the parties fighting now in the area of Salah Eddin in Tripoli to cease all hostilities immediately,” UNSMIL tweeted late Wednesday.

“The UN holds the leaders of the fighting parties accountable for any harm befalling civilians,” it added.

The call came hours after armed clashes resumed Wednesday evening in Tripoli’s southern Salah Eddin district and along the road leading to Tripoli’s airport.

According to local witnesses, heavy gunfire could be heard in the city’s southern districts until Thursday morning.  

In a statement, the Seventh Battalion, a Tripoli-based fighting force, accused militias affiliated with Libya’s UN-backed unity government of having attacked its positions earlier Wednesday.

Abdul Salam Ashour, the unity government’s interior minister, told Libya’s private Al-Ahrar television channel that fierce clashes had also occurred in the city’s Mashrou al-Hadhaba and Khallet al-Forjan districts.

Efforts to stop the fighting, he added, had so far failed to bear fruit.

On Sept. 4, UNISMIL announced that a ceasefire had been reached to end fighting in Tripoli between rival armed groups after dozens of people had reportedly been killed.

Six days later, however, fighting resumed following an armed attack on the headquarters of Libya’s National Oil Corporation.

Libya has remained dogged by turmoil since 2011, when a bloody NATO-backed uprising led to the ouster and death of long-serving President Muammar Gaddafi after more than four decades in power. 

Since then, Libya’s stark political divisions have yielded two rival seats of power -- one in Tobruk and another in Tripoli -- and a host of heavily armed militia groups.

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