Battle rages for Libya's capital, airport bombed

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption Gen Haftar's forces prepare for Tripoli battle

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Gen Haftar's forces prepare for Tripoli battle

Since then, the country's stark political divisions have yielded two rival seats of power: one in the eastern city of Al-Bayda, with which Haftar is associated, and another in Tripoli, which has United Nations support.

Mitiga airport, in an eastern suburb, was bombed and closed, authorities said. A cease-fire is imperative to ensure that civilians trapped in fighting around the Libyan capital can escape to safer areas and that the wounded can be evacuated, he said.

On Tuesday, the GNA's Presidential Council condemned the LNA airstrikes on Mitiga Airport in Tripoli, slamming them as "a war crime and a crime against humanity, which is violating all national laws and global agreements and which made sending ill and wounded people to hospitals impossible at this hard moment". "The sound of fighting seems to be closing in", he said.

Witnesses said the LNA had lost control of the old airport and withdrawn from positions on the airport road. Its elite Saiqa (Lightning) force, numbers some 3,500, while Haftar's sons also have well-equipped troops, LNA sources say.

The death toll is for fighters as well as civilians including a whole family who died, the spokesman said.

It reported 11 deaths without saying on which side.

The EU's foreign policy chief on Monday added her voice to those urging the eastern strongman to stop his offensive, in the wake of calls for restraint by the UN Security Council and the United States.

But the true was not observed by evening, one United Nations official said.

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The LNA said on Monday that 19 of its soldiers had been killed in recent days.

He has asked for "an immediate halt to any further air operations" in order to bring the country back from the brink of what he called "the effective start of a civil war".

Salame has said he is still planning for the April 14-16 National Conference aimed at bringing all Libyan factions together to chart a course to elections.

"We need all the parties involved in this conflict to attend", Dujarric said.

The escalating crisis in Libya started to unravel last Thursday when the Libyan National Army (LNA) of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar marched on the national capital with the stated goal of wrestling it from alleged "terrorists".

"The Libyan army moved towards Tripoli with one goal, to free Tripoli from armed militias", he said after meeting with the Arab League's secretary-general, Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

A contingent of USA forces evacuated at the weekend.

Islamic State staged some high profile attacks in Tripoli past year, but the militant group has largely retreated to the desert of southern Libya since the loss of its former stronghold in Sirte in late 2016.

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