Eastern Libyan commander orders his troops to move on Tripoli

Map of Libya

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was flying to eastern Libya on Friday to meet commander Khalifa Haftar, whose forces are advancing on the capital Tripoli now held by an internationally recognized government.

Guterres appealed for calm, writing on his Twitter account that he was "deeply concerned by the military movement taking place in Libya and the risk of confrontation".

Libya was on the brink of a third civil war in eight years last night after the general whose forces run the east of the country ordered his troops to march on Tripoli.

Haftar's forces have emerged as a key player, opposing the government in Tripoli and backing a parallel administration in the east.

A convoy of vehicles from Haftar's forces on Thursday pushed towards the city of Gharyan, some 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Tripoli, witnesses and military sources said.

The European Union warned that the "military buildup underway in Libya and the escalatory rhetoric. seriously risks leading to an uncontrollable confrontation".

Hilal Khashan, who teaches political science at the American University of Beirut, tells VOA that regardless of the current military situation on the ground, it is becoming a foregone conclusion that General Haftar will eventually gain control of Libya.

Libyan forces allied to Tripoli have taken 145 troops prisoner from the Eastern forces, a commander said on Friday.

In 2014, he assembled former Gaddafi soldiers and in a three-year battle seized the main eastern city of Benghazi.

Armed groups allied to the Tripoli government have moved more machinegun-mounted pickups from the coastal city of Misrata to Tripoli to defend it against Haftar's forces.

Germany called an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council due to the military escalation.

Russian Federation said on Friday that it hoped the crisis would not lead to "renewed bloodshed", and added that Moscow did not support Mr Haftar.

Salvini told reporters on the sidelines of a G-7 meeting in France on Friday that he's "very anxious about Libya" and added that "the balance of the entire Mediterranean is at stake".

The UN and Western countries have been trying to mediate between Sarraj and Haftar, who met in Abu Dhabi, the capital of United Arab Emirates (UAE), last month to discuss a power-sharing deal.

Tunisia has tightened control on its border with Libya in response to the renewed conflict, the defense ministry said.

"We need to throw water on the fire, not petrol on the fire".

The tensions come as the United Nations is preparing to hold a conference later this month in the southwestern city of Ghadames to discuss a political solution to prepare the country for long-delayed elections.

Khalifa Haftar, the military commander who dominates eastern Libya, arrives to attend an global conference on Libya at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, May 29, 2018.



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