Urgent UN Security Council Meeting on Libya Called for Friday - UK Mission

Libya declares mobilization to face Haftar's forces

Libya declares mobilization to face Haftar's forces

Most of the pro-Haftar fighters who briefly captured the checkpoint late on Thursday were rival militiamen from the town of Sabratha further west along the Mediterranean coast.

Libya was on the brink of a third civil war in eight years last night after the general whose forces run the east of the country ordered his troops to march on Tripoli.

Across numerous towns in Libya's west there would be deep resistance to Haftar or any effort to impose military rule, partly because they would fear reprisals by Haftar forces and because they do not want to return to the authoritarian rule of the Gaddafi era.

Haftar had announced the Tripoli operation on Thursday, saying that his forces had entered the cities of Sorman, to the capital's south, and Gharyan, to its west.

"The military units confirm its keenness to protect citizens' safety and public properties of the Libyan state", the statement said without elaborating.

In a video entitled "Operation to liberate Tripoli", Haftar said: "To our army which is stationed at the outskirts of Tripoli".

Tunisia has tightened control on its border with Libya in response to the renewed conflict, the defense ministry said.

Since then, the country's stark political divisions have yielded two rival seats of power: one in the eastern city of Al-Bayda, to which Haftar is linked, and the UN-backed government in Tripoli.

Guterres stayed in the fortified United Nations compound on Tripoli's outskirts for the night and plans to meet Haftar on Friday, a United Nations spokesman said.

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Asked about the offensive, Guterres said Libya needed a political, not a military, solution.

It comes amid rising tensions in the oil-rich country - without a stable government since Western military intervention in 2011 - and just hours after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged calm and restraint in Libya.

Russian Federation has denied supporting a Libyan general who is now marching on the country's capital in an apparent attempt to take control of the north African nation.

Mismari also called on young people in Tripoli to focus on the battle between LNA and Daesh, or Islamic State, in another hint that military action might be looming.

The Zawiya militia is one of dozens that have proliferated since the overthrow of veteran dictator Moamer Kadhafi in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 and are variously aligned with the UN-backed unity government in the capital and a rival administration in the east backed by Haftar's forces.

Haftar issued the order after the LNA took control over cities of Surman and Garyan that previously were under the authority of the UN-supported interim Government of National Accord. "It is hard to see Haftar rolling into a place like Tripoli unless he has cut deals already".

Italy, which lies across the Mediterranean from Libya, was anxious by the turn of events, Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said. Both men had met in Abu Dhabi last month to discuss a power sharing deal and a national conference is set to follow this month to agree on a road map for elections.

"We need to throw water on the fire, not petrol on the fire".

They already overran most of the remote oil fields and oasis cities of the desert south during an offensive earlier this year.

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