Military tensions rise in western Libya

Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-22 05:47:30|Editor: huaxia
Video PlayerClose

TRIPOLI, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- The neighboring cities of Libya's western city Sabratha are witnessing continuous military reinforcements, as rival military groups in the city continue to clash.

Sabratha, located some 70 km west of the capital Tripoli, has been witnessing violent clashes since Sunday morning between rival armed groups that till now have killed 5 and injured 20 people and forced residents to flee their homes.

The clashes broke out after a member of armed groups affiliated with the city's military council was killed by the rival anti-IS operation chamber.

"Military reinforcements are coming from the neighboring town of Zawiya to Sabratha, in order to support armed groups affiliated with the city's military council," a military source with the Chamber told Xinhua on Thursday.

"Armed vehicles are leaving from Zawiya. They are currently stationed near the area of Harshah in the outskirts of the city," The source added, revealing that clashes are expected to break out in the coming hours between forces of the towns of West Zawiya and Surman which have declared opposing any forces` entry into Sabratha.

"The forces from Zawiya are trying to assist the besieged armed militias, as they are partners with human and fuel smugglers and are trying to protect the interests of smugglers. They are trying to stop the regular forces (anti-IS operation chamber) from expelling the militias that control Sabratha," the source said.

Dozens of armored vehicles were deployed on the 23-km long road between Zawiya and Sabratha in western Libya.

UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) on Thursday called for an immediate cease-fire in the western Libyan city Sabratha.

"UNSMIL are deeply concerned about clashes in Sabratah and civilian casualties, calling on all parties to immediately cease hostilities and ensure the protection of civilians in accordance with international humanitarian law," the mission said in a statement on Thursday.

Sabratha's anti-IS operation chamber was formed in 2016, and is allied with the Tripoli-based UN-backed government of national accord.

The armed groups affiliated with the city's military council opposes the chamber and accuse its members of being loyal to the rival eastern-based General Haftar's army.

Libya remains politically divided despite signing a UN-sponsored peace deal and appointment of a unity government. Since the 2011 uprising that toppled former leader Muammar Gaddafi's regime, the north African country is plagued with escalating violence and unrest. Enditem