United States pulls forces amid fighting near capital

United States pulls forces amid fighting near capital

Salame was speaking to reporters in Tripoli a day after Khalifa Haftar's forces said they had advanced into the capital's southern outskirts and taken its former global airport.

A spokesman for the GNA's army announced today the start of Operation Volcano of Rage to repulse Marshal Haftar's attack on Tripoli, ... "We have formed an operative staff including units of the armed forces and the interior ministry".

The US gave no details of how big the force is, or how long it has been in the country.

In the past, Haftar has struck deals with armed factions outside Tripoli to advance his forces.

GNA head Fayez al-Sarraj warned on Saturday of a "war without a winner" and said that reinforcements were pouring into Tripoli from several regions. "Libya will always be a civilian state and the army will protect it and secure the people", he said, adding that a joint command headquarters was set up to coordinate the military efforts.

Still, American forces and diplomatic staff have continued to work in Libya with a special focus on helping the UN-backed government maintain its rickety grip on portions of the country.

Tripoli-based army spokesperson Gununu said that troops are advancing on "all frontlines" and have captured "many military vehicles" from Haftar's forces. It answers to the authorities based in eastern Libya, who are at odds with the United Nations -backed government.

The Libyan air force, which is nominally under government control, targeted an area 50km south of the capital on Saturday morning. "I still hope it is possible to avoid a bloody confrontation in and around Tripoli", he said on Twitter.

There is widespread concern that Hifter's military push will bring on another wave of violence and fighting in a country that has operated as a virtual failed state since the 2011 overthrow of longtime dictator Moamar Gadhafi.

Parallel government: The Tripoli-based interim government, the Government of National Accord (GNA), which was set up with United Nations backing in 2015, has been unable to enforce its authority in the entire country.

The UN has declared that the gathering will go on as planned.

"We are determined" to hold the talks, he said.

"We want to reassure Libyans that we will stay alongside the Libyan people to make the political process a success without resorting to escalation".

A similar stance was taken by the UN Security Council which, following a closed-door emergency meeting Friday, said those responsible for re-igniting the conflict will be held responsible.

The alliance said it had named its operation "Ouadi Doum II" after an airbase in northern Chad where Libyan forces commanded by Haftar, then still loyal to Gaddafi, suffered a major reverse at the hands of the French air force in 1986.

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