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Al-Sarraj: ‘Haftar forces targeted a school in Tripoli’

April 15, 2019 at 2:40 am

A fighter loyal to Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) sits in a crater reportedly caused by an air strike west of the city of Aziziah, some 60 kilometres southwest of the capital Tripoli, on 14 April 2019. [Mahmud TURKIA / AFP / Getty]

Fayez AlSarraj, Chairman of the Presidential Council of Libya and Prime Minister of the Government of National Accord (GNA), stated that the forces of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, commander of the Dignity Operation’s special forces in eastern Libya, are carrying out indiscriminate airstrikes and shelling of civilian areas in Tripoli, the latest of which was the bombing of a school on Saturday.

The statement was released during a meeting held between the Libyan Prime Minister and UN envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salamé, who was accompanied by his deputy for political affairsStephanie T. Williams, Saturday, according to a communiqué issued by the Information Office of Al-Sarraj.

Al-Sarraj indicated that the bombing targeted civilian residential areas and infrastructure, pointing out that the last target was a school in the area of Ain Zara in Tripoli.

According to the statement, Al-Sarraj and Salamé discussed, during the meeting, the latest developments in the Libyan capital, and the efforts of the United Nations to stop the attacks.

Al-Sarraj told the UN envoy about the human rights violations committed by Haftar forces, including the recruitment of children to participate in fights.

Read: ‘Libyan civil war giving opening for Daesh to rise’, warns expert on the region

The statement also conveyed Salamé’s full rejection of any aggression against civilians and civilian installations, which constitutes a serious violation of international humanitarian law, stressing that the UN is still carrying on the necessary efforts to end this war.

Later, Al-Mismari, spokesman for Haftar troops, denied Al-Sarraj’s allegations, noting that Haftar’ forces have carried out eight air raids against the Baqara Group at the Rahba camp in Tajoura, and Misrata’s militias in Ghout Al-Rouman and Ain Zara.

On the other hand, Al-Mismari accused the GNA’s air force of killing three civilians in the bombing of the town of Gharyan, controlled by Haftar, and shelling civilian areas in Tarhuna.

He mentioned that foreign pilots have participated in executing the airstrikes led by the GNA, pointing out that Al-Sarraj is increasingly recruiting foreign fighters. Al-Mismari promised that he would continue to provide irrefutable evidence that the battle in Tripoli is in fact between the Libyans and terrorist organisations.

On 4 April, Haftar, commander of the army of the east, launched a military operation to take control of Tripoli, in a move that sparked widespread international condemnation.

Haftar’s decision came before a dialogue conference, scheduled for next Sunday and Tuesday, as part of an international road map to tackle the conflict in the oil-rich Arab country before being indefinitely postponed.

Since 2011, Libya has been witnessing a struggle for legitimacy and authority, which is currently centred between the internationally recognized GNA in Tripoli (West) and Haftar forces affiliated to the Libyan House of Representatives in Tobruk.