Libya’s UN-backed prime minister has vowed to defend the capital Tripoli as forces loyal to a rival advance from the east.
In a televised tackle Fayez al-Serraj accused Common Khalifa Haftar of launching a coup, saying his troops could be met with “energy and energy”.
The rebels are on the outskirts of the capital and say they’ve seized Tripoli’s worldwide airport.
Tripoli is the bottom of the UN-backed, internationally recognised authorities.
Insurgent forces are advancing on Tripoli in a multi-pronged assault from the south and west of the town, though they’ve reportedly been slowed by pro-government fighters.
Gen Haftar’s Libyan Nationwide Military (LNA) troops seized the south of Libya and its oil fields earlier this 12 months.
Why is Libya so lawless?
Who’s navy strongman Khalifa Haftar?
Libya has been torn by violence and political instability since long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi was deposed and killed in 2011.
What’s taking place in Libya?
Gen Haftar – who was appointed chief of the LNA beneath an earlier UN-backed administration – ordered his forces to advance on Tripoli on Thursday, as UN Secretary Common Antonio Guterres was within the metropolis to debate the continuing disaster.
Gen Haftar spoke to Mr Guterres in Benghazi on Friday, and reportedly instructed him that his operation wouldn’t cease till his troops had defeated “terrorism”.
Prime Minister al-Serraj stated his authorities had “prolonged our arms in direction of peace” whereas Gen Haftar had declared a coup.
Forces have been ordered “to cope with the specter of these striving to destabilise and intimidate civilians”, he stated, including these accountable can be delivered to justice.
Regardless of worldwide calls for to cease the advance, the LNA now says they’ve seized the disused worldwide airport south of Tripoli and reportedly declared a no-fly zone over the west of the nation, though the scenario on the bottom stays unclear.
The Libyan air power, which is nominally beneath authorities management, stated it had focused an space 50km (30 miles) south of the capital on Saturday morning with “intensive strikes”. The LNA vowed to retaliate.
Tripoli residents have begun stocking up on meals and gas, AFP reported.
What’s been the response?
The G7 group of main industrial nations has urged all events “to right away halt all navy exercise”. The UN Safety council has issued the same name.
Russia has additionally referred to as on events within the escalating battle to search out an settlement.
Talking in Egypt, Russian international minister Sergei Lavrov warned in opposition to what he referred to as international meddling in Libya, whereas Egypt’s international minister Sameh Shoukry stated Libya’s issues couldn’t be solved by navy means.
Each international locations have offered help to Gen Haftar.
UN envoy Ghassan Salame stated on Saturday that a convention deliberate for 14-16 April meant to pave the way in which for elections would nonetheless be held.
Hope dashed for a political decision?
By Sebastian Usher, BBC Arab affairs editor
It is nonetheless unclear how a lot this can be a present of power to bolster Gen Haftar’s place or a real effort to grab Tripoli.
He returned in the course of the revolution and he is subsequently develop into probably the most highly effective navy chief in a rustic rife with militias, allied to a rival authorities within the east.
Regardless of the refrain of worldwide concern over his actions, he has had help from highly effective exterior gamers, together with the UAE and Egypt.
Efforts in direction of a political decision for Libya have foundered time after time. The latest hopes might as soon as once more have been dashed.
Libya nation profile
Who’s Khalifa Haftar?
Born in 1943, the previous military officer helped Colonel Muammar Gaddafi seize energy in 1969 earlier than falling out with him and going into exile within the US. He returned in 2011 after the rebellion in opposition to Gaddafi started and have become a insurgent commander.
In December Haftar met Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj from the UN-backed authorities at a convention however refused to attend official talks.
He visited Saudi Arabia final week, the place he met King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for talks.