'Women, children buried alive': Libya FM urges international UN probe into Tarhuna mass graves

'Women, children buried alive': Libya FM urges international UN probe into Tarhuna mass graves
Eleven mass graves have been discovered near Tarhuna, where some women and children were buried alive, Libya's foreign minister said, calling for international investigations.
2 min read
15 June, 2020
The GNA discovered eleven mass graves after it recaptured Tarhuna from Haftar [Getty]
The foreign minister for Libya's Government of National Accord (GNA) is urging the UN Security Council to refer mass graves discovered in the recaptured city of Tarhuna to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Foreign Minister Mohamed Siala sent a letter to the UN Security Council asking the Hague-based court to launch a probe, according to a series of written statements published on Sunday by the foreign ministry on its Facebook account. 

Siala said the GNA found 11 mass graves in Tarhuna, claiming forces loyal to renegade commander Khalifa Haftar buried women and children alive at the sites.

"This time, the UN Security Council should adopt a determined stance against violations which were committed by Haftar's militias and could be counted as crimes against humanity," the official was quoted as saying.

The Libyan minister blamed the increasing violence and casualties discovered in mass graves on what he called a "silence" from the council regarding previous violations by the militant group.

The LNA announced the discovery of four mass graves in Tarhuna last week, after the city was recaptured from Haftar's forces at the start of June.

Photos and videos shared by the media centre of the Libyan government's "Volcano of Rage" military operation showed forensic teams from the Libyan Red Crescent excavating the mass graves.

The United Nations later said that at least eight mass graves were discovered arount the western town, raising fears about the extent of human rights violations in territories controlled by Haftar's forces – mostly in eastern Libya.

 Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has expressed deep shock at the discovery and called on Libya's UN-backed GNA to investigate, identify the victims and look into the causes of death.

The internationally-recognised GNA has been under attack for over a year by forces loyal to Haftar, who has received backing from the UAE, Egypt, and Russia. The commander launched an offensive to seize Tripoli from the GNA, starting a violent conflict that has killed at least 1,000 people.

Read also: Libyan government forces find mass graves, possible evidence of war crimes, in Tarhuna

In recent weeks, Haftar's Libyan National Army has abandoned its remaining positions in the southern suburbs, while the Turkey-backed GNA has regained control of the northwest through its counter-offensive.

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