Saturday, June 10, 2017

28 reported killed in militia clashes in Libyan capital of Tripoli

(May 26)According to the Ministry of Health of the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) 28 people were killed and another 130 wounded in clashes between militia in Tripoli on Friday.

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The most casualties were reported in the Abu Salim neighborhood which saw some of the fiercest clashes. The Ministry noted that the figures are not final and that some of those injured could die. The fighting appears to have been between groups loyal to the Faiez Serraj government with rival militia loyal to the former Salvation Government of Khalifa al-Ghawiel. The Presidency Council(PC) of the GNA condemned the attacks and asked residents to support the government and repel the attackers.
Haytem Al-Tajouri's Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade associated with the PC took control of Hadba Prison where many senior former Gaddafi regime officials are held after hours of fighting with the prison guards. The house of the director of the prison was bulldozed. The prisoners appear to have been moved elsewhere to a safe place. In the clashes Salah al-Barouni a commander of the First Security Squad, a close aide of Haytem, was killed. The clashes set several fires including one at the Abu Salim carpet. The Mellitah Oil Company building in Al-Dahra was hit by a stray shell staring a fire in the upper stories. Another oil company building was damaged in the Ban Ben Ghashir neighborhood.
Al Jazeera reporter Mahmoud Abdelwahed in Tripoli said: "It seems there is no end to this confrontation at least today and every party is just mobilising their forces against the other. Hospitals told us the fighting is so heavy that they can't even get in the area to collect bodies." Some families who want to get out of areas where the clashes are cannot be evacuated in some cases because of the clashes. Tanks, armoured vehicles and pickups with mounted anti-aircraft guns were seen driving toward the battle from the north of the city. An Al Jazeera article has an unusual take on the situation:The clashes appear to pit forces of the Government of National Accord (GNA) against fighters who opposed a political deal establishing the GNA that was signed in the Moroccan town of Skhirat in 2015. The fighters, mostly from the Awaqir tribe in Benghazi, are demanding an investigation into how supporters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group were able to leave Benghazi and Derna undetected in 2015.They say the ISIL supporters were intentionally smuggled out.The fighters claim to be members of the Libyan National Army (LNA) who would not allow anyone to exploit their sacrifices for personal gain.
The article suggests there may be a split in Haftar's ranks. I have not seen this account elsewhere.
According to the Libya Herald, the attack started when Salah Badi the main militia commander of the forces of the Salvation Government or General National Congress(GNC) attacked the Abu Sleem Central Security Forces led by Ghneiwa in an attempt to recapture the Rixos Hotel complex which had been held before and also nearby Camp 77 which was formerly his headquarters. He called his operation "Pride of Libya". He claims his actions are necessary to preserve the 17 February Revolution that overthrew Gaddafi. Badi also attacked the nearby Salahaddin and Khala Furjan districts as well as the airport road before moving into other areas. A pro-PC militia commander Hashm Bishr said that the Tripoli Revolutionary Brigades had nine men killed and another 22 injured. Another 12 were killed from the Abu Sleem Central Security Force with 7 injuured. Two other allied groups also lost one each.
The rival House of Representatives called for an immediate ceasefire and all miliias to withdraw from Tripoli. UN envoy Marin Kobler said he was gravely concerned about the situation and urged that political aims not be pursued through violence. A statement from the UN Support Mission in LIbya said that the GNA remained the sole legitimate government in Libya. According to a recent tweet: " Salah Badi forces have fled acc. to Kara sources. Tractors are being sent to demolish their camp. #Tripoli #Libya Quiet evening now." We will know better tomorrow what the outcome will be.

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