Merkel calls for end to Haftar's push on Tripoli
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is urging Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter to end his self-styled Libyan National Army’s push on Tripoli, saying there can be no military solution to the country’s problems.
Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said Thursday that Merkel made the comments in a telephone call to Fayez Sarraj, the leader of the UN-backed transitional government in Tripoli.
The oil-rich North African country is now governed by rival administrations — a UN-backed government in Tripoli and the west and Hifter and his supporters in the east
Seibert says “the chancellor condemned the advance of General Hifter’s troops on Tripoli. The German government urgently demands that General Hifter and his supporters immediately end all military operations.”
Merkel also called for all parties involved to return to the negotiation table.
The battle for Libya's capital intensified as the UN Security Council met on Wednesday to discuss the crisis gripping the North African country, where armed rivals are locked in a deadly power struggle.
The closed-door talks in New York came a day after the United Nations postponed a Libyan national conference aimed at drawing up an election roadmap because of fighting raging on Tripoli's doorstep.
Libya has been riven by divisions since the NATO-backed overthrow of dictator Muammar Gadaffi in 2011, with various armed groups and two parallel governments vying for territory and oil wealth.
Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), which controls swathes of the country's east, said it had seized a barracks in the Aziziya area around 50 kilometres (31 miles) south of Tripoli after "ferocious clashes".
It said several fighters loyal to the UN-backed government had been detained and their weapons seized.
"For the moment, it's still a game of cat and mouse," said a commander from a pro-GNA group.
"We're still organising ourselves. The war hasn't truly started," he told AFP.
The internationally recognised government carried out several air raids against LNA positions south of Tripoli, and also hit supply lines in central Libya, GNA spokesman Colonel Mohamed Gnounou said Tuesday.
Haftar's forces appear to be advancing on two fronts, from the south and southeast of Tripoli, while coastal roads to the east and west of the city are defended by fighters loyal to the GNA.