Friday, March 10, 2017

Rival militia groups clash in Tripoli Libya

( Febrruary 24) The clashes are said to be between the Deterrent Forces led by Eghnaiwa Al-Kiki and the forces of the Al-Burki battalion. The Libyan Red Crescent(LRC) said that its efforts to communicate with both sides failed.

The LRC has been trying to evacuate civilians from the area where the fighting is happening. Sources told Libya Prospect that each side accuses the other of not being willing to reconcile. A spokesperson for the LRC said the the fighting groups did not respect the emblem of the Red Cross resulting in their failure to respond to the cries for help from local residents. The Salvation Government led by Khalifa Al-Ghwell claims it has been talking to the warring parties urging them to cease fighting but said also that it is ready to intervene to stop the clashes.
There have been numerous tweets about the conflict. One tweet calls the Al-Kikli militia, Ghneiwa militia:"Ghneiwa militia led by Al-Kikli launched an offensive to take control of Salah Al-Burki HQ in Abu Salim, Tripoli. " Another tweet notes that the Al-Burki militia is associated with the newly formed Libyan National Guard(LNG) that in turn appear to be loyal to Al-Ghwell: "Yes Al-Burki has joined the LNG." It seems that the large Tripoli Revolutionary Brigades of Haytem Tajouri have sent help for the Ghneiwa militia according to another tweet: "Tripoli Revolutionaries' Brigades by Tajouri sent 5 tanks in Abu Salim to help Ghneiwa militia. Casualties reported in both side." The Al-Burki brigade contains fighters mostly from Misrata. Locals report the use of tanks and heavy artillery.
According to the Libya Herald some sources say that at least 8 dead bodies had arrived at the Abu Sleem hospital. However the number of casualties has not been confirmed. A Burki commander Najib Ghurthab was named as being killed. There are differing views as to what caused the clashes. The Al-Burki militia may have been intending to eject Ghneiwa from the area.
Residents in the area are trapped in their houses. Kamal, a resident of the area told the Herald: “It’s hell. The explosions are so strong. I have gathered my wife and kids in a relatively safe room in our house. My wife has had to block the ears of our one-year-old baby because the loud gunshots have panicked him. " Elders from Tarhouna, 65 kilometers southeast of Tripoli are reported to be mediating between the two sides but without success so far it would seem. The LRC has told residents of the area not only to stay at home but keep away from windows while it attempts to negotiate a safe corridor for them. Sources told the Libya Observer that the clashes are caused by abduction of fighters on both sides.
The clashes could escalate to become an outright fight between militia loyal to the UN-brokered Government of National
Accord (GNA) and those loyal to Al-Ghwell who is leading a coup against the GNA and heads the Salvation Government. Any divisions between anti-Haftar forces in Tripoli will only help rival commander in eastern Libya, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.
UPDATE: Apparently a ceasefire has been negotiated by Tarhouna elders

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