Civilians flee Libya’s war zone

April 10, 2019
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The fear of large-scale fighting outbreak has compelled residents of Tripoli city to begin stocking up on food and fuel to flee the war zone.

Some 2,200 people had already fled fighting south of Tripoli since April 4, the UN humanitarian office said in a new report.

“The civilian population in some combat-affected areas is unable to flee the area and emergency services are unable to reach them,” the report said.

“The fast increasing deployment of forces could potentially result in significant population displacement,” the UN stated.

At least 35 people, including civilians, have been killed on both sides since Haftar launched his offensive four days ago.

The health ministry of the Tripoli-based government said in a statement that at least 21 people were killed, including a doctor, and 27 others were wounded.

Ahmed al-Mesmari, a spokesman for Haftar’s forces, said at the weekend that 14 troops were killed.

The GNA controls Tripoli, situated in northwestern Libya, while the LNA is allied to a parallel administration based in the east of the oil-rich country, which splintered into a patchwork of competing power bases following the overthrow of former leader, Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

On Sunday, the US military said it had temporarily pulled some of its forces out of Libya amid the upsurge in fighting in the North African country.

“Due to increased unrest in Libya, a contingent of US forces supporting US Africa Command temporarily relocated from the country in response to security conditions on the ground,” it said in a statement.

It did not detail how many military personnel had been withdrawn.

US Africa Command, headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, said its mission in Libya involves “military support to diplomatic missions, counterterrorism activities, enhancing partnerships and improving security across the region”.

It said it would “continue to monitor conditions on the ground in Libya and assess the feasibility for renewed US military presence as appropriate”.

“The security realities on the ground in Libya are growing increasingly complex and unpredictable,” said US Marine Corps General Thomas Waldhauser, commander of US Africa Command.

“Even with an adjustment of the force, we will continue to remain agile in support of existing US strategy.”

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