UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Shells fell on a Tripoli suburb on Tuesday night, adding to the civilian suffering caused by a two-week-old offensive by the Libyan National Army led by Khalifa Haftar, which aims to wrest the Libyan capital from the internationally recognized government.
The shells landed just before midnight on Tuesday in the Abu Salim neighborhood, a residential neighborhood near an uninhabited airport, killing at least four people, increasing the UN death toll by more than 800.
“This is a meaningless war against civilians,” a man in his forties told Reuters. Mohammed was one of angry residents in the area where houses and cars were damaged.
Both sides exchanged accusations about the attack.
Hafer and the Libyan National Army describe the crackdown as part of a campaign to restore security and defeat Islamic militants in the country, which has been in anarchy since the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
But the internationally recognized government of Tripoli, led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, which has stopped the advance of Hafar’s forces in the southern suburbs, sees this 75-year-old military commander as a dangerous tyrant in the Kadhafi style.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said thousands of civilians were trapped in southern neighborhoods of Tripoli because of the fighting.
Rescuers and aid workers have difficulty reaching them and electricity, water and communications have been severely damaged, he said in a statement.
Some 20,000 people have so far fled their homes and some are seeking refuge in other parts of the capital, but the majority are heading out of the city.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said at least 14 civilians were killed and 36 wounded during the attack.
Al-Sarraj said it was inspecting the affected area on Wednesday morning. The Abu Salim neighborhood is about eight kilometers from the city center, behind the front lines of the pro-Siraj forces, which resist the Libyan National Army to the south.
“I saw the shells fall,” said a man named Abdul Razzaq. This is a crime committed by Khalifa Haftar.”
* Italy fears “infiltration of terrorists”
International forces have panicked because of the escalation in Libya, which has undermined a UN peace plan and threatens to halt oil supplies from the OPEC member and could lead to a new wave of illegal immigration across the Mediterranean to Europe.
But there was no common position because of the different positions of the Gulf states and Europe vis-à-vis the different factions.
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said the Haftar attack increased the risk of militants on the boats of migrants heading to his country.
“The infiltration of Islamic terrorists is no longer a threat to a tourist, but a reality,” Salveni, leader of the anti-immigration party, said in an interview with Radio 1. “I have to repeat that he will not be allowed to dock on the shores of Italy.”
Italy is barring ships from charitable organizations that save migrants in the Mediterranean, saying that they help smugglers and encourage unregulated mass migration. Charitable organizations deny violations of any laws.
The government also accuses the EU of leaving Italy alone in dealing with the migration crisis over the past few years. Since Salvini took office in June, the number of new arrivals has fallen by more than 90 percent.
On the Libyan conflict, Salfini said, “Italy is working day and night for peace, dialogue and a ceasefire so that common sense prevails.” Rome is trying to push a crater to stop its march.
Italy has large oil interests in Libya, and it supports Al-Seraj, which has caused tension between it and France, which was supporting Hafer in the past.
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for VOP from different countries around the world – edited and published by VOP staff in our newsroom.
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