Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, May 2019
Possible Hafter's War Crimes, Zintan Supports Tripolic Government, Humanitarian Situation Deteriorates in Libya
May 20, 2019
Libya's Zintan rejects Haftar's attack, backs up legitimate forces in defending Tripoli
Libya Observer, May 20, 2019
Written By: AbdulkaderAssad
Zintan's elders and 17 February Gathering members announced full support for the Libyan army forces under the command of the Presidential Council and all the backup forces fighting to defend Tripoli and February revolution principles - including the Volcano of Rage Operation.
In a statement on Sunday, Zintanis said the "aggression on Tripoli" aims to bring Libyans back under the reign of dictatorship, rejecting the totalitarian and military rule and voicing support for unity and the constants of February 17 revolution.
"We have sacrificed our sons and daughters in order to have a civilian state where power can be circulated peacefully among all Libyans." The statement reads.
They also reiterated their commitment to the agreements signed with all western cities and districts in Libya, calling on east-based residents to mandate elders and dignitaries to sit for dialogue with their fellow citizens in west and southern Libya.
"Despite the Tripoli offensive and the threat to the revolution principles, we are still committed to avoiding bloodshed and striking a nationwide reconciliation on the condition that the attacking forces return to their previous positions." Zintanis said.
They also called on House of Representatives' members in Tobruk to join their colleagues in Tripoli, warning against divisions on all levels at this decisive point of Libya's future.
Libyan army forces foil heavy artillery advance by Haftar's forces on Tripoli Airport, Ain Zara
Libya Observer, May 18, 2019 -
Written By: AbdulkaderAssad
Forces of the Libyan Army under the Presidential Council government's command thwarted on Saturday morning a heavy-artillery-backed advance by Khalifa Haftar's forces on Tripoli International Airport frontline, blocking their attempt to enter Tripoli's downtown.
Sources from the "Volcano of Rage" Operation of the Presidential Council's commanded forces said Haftar's forces had supplies from Tarhouna for their early Saturday advance, adding that they managed to foil the advance and gained new ground in the vicinity of Tripoli Airport.
"Libyan Air Force targeted positions and ammo depots for Haftar's forces in Tripoli Airport, Qasir Benghashir, Tuwaisha and Sooq Al-Ahad." The sources added.
"Desperate attempts by Haftar's forces reflect instructions given by Haftar for them to enter Tripoli at any cost, so he can have a strong position in any negotiations." The sources further added.
On Friday, the Libyan army forces repelled an attack by Haftar's forces on Ain Zara frontline as they tried to advance from three fighting axes using tanks and heavy artillery, according to a senior commander - Abdelrahman Al-Shukri.
Some shells fired by Haftar's forces fell on residential areas inside Ain Zara causing material damage to the houses, while in Sabea area in southwestern Tripoli, Libyan army forces seized a number of military vehicles for Haftar's forces after capturing three fighters.
Clashes are still ongoing on Tripoli Airport frontline with an uneasy calm every now and then.
Over two killed in gunmen attack on checkpoint in Zillah, Libya's Presidential Council condemns
Libya Observer, May 18, 2019 - 1
Written By: AbdulkaderAssad
Sources from Zillah town reported two people killed and two others missing after an attack by gunmen early on Saturday in the vicinity of Zueitina oil field checkpoint.
The sources added that the gunmen are believed to be linked to ISIS, adding that the four victims are from the Petroleum Facilities Guard staffers in Zillah town.
Zillah saw a similar attack last year by ISIS militants.
Meanwhile, the Presidential Council issued a statement condemning the attack, rendering it as terrorist and saying it is part of a series of attacks on different Libyan cities, mainly in the south.
The statement reiterates that the attack on Tripoli by Khalifa Haftar is the main reason why the security vacuum in Libya is being widened and thus exploited by terrorists and criminals.
"The attack on Tripoli will help ISIS and other terrorist groups reemerge and expand in Libya." The Presidential Council warned.
It added that the Libyan Army forces won't sit idly by and watch the terrorists wreak havoc in Libya, rather they will do all they can to continue defeating them against all odds.
Southern Libya is seeing security vacuum that has been escalated since February attack by Khalifa Haftar's forces on the region.
Ghadduwah and Al-Fuqahaa towns in the south both saw ISIS attacks, which left several people killed and injured and several houses burnt.
ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi appeared last month in a video admitting the defeat of his terrorist group in Sirte, but reaffirming that ISIS remnants are still operating in southern Libya, vowing to carry out more attacks to weaken Libya's government.
Amnesty International: War crimes committed in Tripoli offensive
Libya Observer, May 16, 2019
Written By: AbdulkaderAssad
Amnesty International said Thursday that after six weeks, the offensive to take over Tripoli by Khalifa Haftar and his forces has resulted in unlawful attacks that could amount to war crimes which must be investigated by international prosecutors.
The report by Amnesty International said it had documented evidence of indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas in the Libyan capital.
"The organization has gathered witness testimony and analyzed satellite imagery, which indicates that densely populated residential areas in the Abu Salim district of Tripoli were indiscriminately attacked with rockets during an episode of intense fighting between 15-17 April." It said.
Amnesty International has also documented attacks that have placed the lives of hundreds of refugees and migrants at risk.
“As the battle for Tripoli unfolds, the warring parties have displayed a shameful disregard for civilian safety and international humanitarian law by carrying out indiscriminate attacks on residential neighbourhoods. Such reckless attacks could have devastating consequences for civilians and strengthen the need for the International Criminal Court to expand its investigations into possible war crimes by all sides in Libya’s conflict,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.
More than 454 people have been killed and 2,154 injured - including volunteering relief workers and civilians, according to the World Health Organization and the UN.
Around 70,000 people have also been forced to flee their homes because of the fighting.
A week of status quo in Tripoli conflict dynamics but humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate
By Sami Zaptia.
Libya Herald, London, 20 May 2019:
The humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate as a direct result of the armed conflict in and around Tripoli, the latest UN Tripoli Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says. But it also confirms that during the past week ‘‘a form of status quo in the conflict dynamics in Tripoli has allowed access to some urban areas where humanitarian actors were previously unable to reach’’.
This dynamic, however, could be changed as the arrival of new weapons and arms to both sides of the conflict seem to be openly paraded.
The OCHA report says that the use of explosive weapons – including artillery shelling and aerial bombardment – in populated areas continues to cause civilian casualties. It confirmed that at least six people were killed and five people were injured in an apparent airstrike in Gasr Ben Ghashir on 14 May. It also established that 126 civilian casualties, including 29 fatalities, have now been confirmed since the beginning of clashes.
It reminded all parties of their obligations under international humanitarian law to take all feasible measures to avoid civilian harm, and called on all parties to refrain from using explosive weapons – including by aerial bombardment or shelling – in populated areas, given their likely indiscriminate effect.
On the ground, the report says that since the onset of hostilities on 4 April, over 75,000 individuals have fled their homes. Of these, over 48 per cent are estimated to be children and 51 per cent to be women. The rate of displacement has decreased somewhat since the start of the conflict, yet armed conflict continues to drive more and more families from their homes. The majority of IDPs are staying in private accommodation, with friends and relatives or in rental accommodation, mainly in urban areas of Tripoli.
Many IDPs have also moved to areas along the coastal line of Western Libya and the Nafusa mountains, while approximately 2,700 IDPs are hosted in collective shelters established by local authorities and first responders. 29 collective shelters have been set up to date, the majority of which are in schools with some others set up in holiday resorts and university dorms.
An increasing number of IDPs are being identified in areas further away from Tripoli, a trend which is likely to increase the radius in need of humanitarian assistance.
Humanitarian actors estimate that over 100,000 men, women and children remain trapped in immediate frontline areas, with over 400,000 more in areas directly impacted by clashes. Concerns are high for civilians unable to leave these areas, as conditions deteriorate, and emergency services are unable to get through.
Water and electricity cuts are being reported from frontline areas, while market access and availability of food is very limited. Humanitarian actors continue to appeal for a humanitarian truce to allow civilians trapped in conflict areas to move freely to safer areas and for assistance to reach those in urgent need, the report says.
Humanitarian actors are extremely concerned for the safety and wellbeing of nearly 3,400 refugees and migrants trapped in detentions centres (DCs) exposed to, or in close proximity to, the fighting. In addition to the risk posed by armed clashes, access to food, water and healthcare is severely restricted at these facilities as a result of the conflict.
The impact of clashes is being felt outside of Tripoli, as more IDPs arrive in other areas and disruptions in supplies of essential goods such as food and fuel exacerbate already existing scarcities in the south of Libya. The areas south of the battlefront remain largely inaccessible to humanitarian actors due to fighting and random shelling. However, during the past week a form of status quo in the conflict dynamics in Tripoli has allowed access to some urban areas where humanitarian actors were previously unable to reach. Humanitarian partners continue to express concern over lengthy delays and inconsistencies in the import and customs clearance of humanitarian cargo entering Libya and call for the fast tracking of aid shipments to ensure timely delivery to affected populations.
Humanitarian partners continue to provide assistance, where access allows. Over 42,400 people have received assistance since the start of the conflict. However insufficient access and funding are impeding response operations. On 18 April, humanitarian partners launched a flash appeal for $10.2 million in support of the Tripoli response. However only 30% of the funding requirement has been pledged/received to date, the report says.
ISIS attack on Zella
Meanwhile, both the internationally recognized Faiez Serraj-led Presidency Council and Government of National Accord and the National Oil Corporation (NOC) condemned Saturday’s attack by ISIS on Zella (Zellah).
The Presidency Council said that the Khalifa Hafter attack on Tripoli will increase crime and terrorism as these unlawful elements exploit the resultant security vacuum.
In its condemnation statement, the NOC revealed that extremists stormed the main gate between Zellah city and the local oilfield operated by NOC subsidiary Zueitina Oil Company (ZOC). The attack resulted in three reported casualties, including one Libyan citizen.
The NOC said that the incident caused no immediate impact on operations and that ZOC management held an emergency meeting to review security protocols, requesting that the local Petroleum Facilities Guard take necessary precautions.
NOC chairman, Mustafa Sanalla, denounced the attack and warned of the risk to the oil sector from current hostilities. He said that the “NOC strongly condemns today’s (Saturday’s) terrorist attack that could have easily endangered oil sector workers and infrastructure. The incident highlights the fragile security situation in our country and the need for an immediate ceasefire. Ongoing hostilities have created a security vacuum that extremists are now taking advantage of – potentially plunging Libya into even deeper chaos.”
The NOC said that it denounces all conflict and the impact it has on attempts to rebuild the energy sector, and subsequent loss of international investor confidence.
Man-made Water disruption
Meanwhile, the Man-made Water Authority, the entity responsible for supplying Tripoli and north western Libya with water, reported today that its control centre at Shwerif was raided by militias yesterday, forcing it to shut down its valves supplying the area. The control centre is located in an area nominally under the control of Khalifa Hafter and his aligned forces. The Serraj-aligned Ministry of Interior has condemned Hafter for this act and called on the international community to take note of this crime against civilian populations.
UNSMIL head Salame visit of Washington
On the diplomatic front, UNSMIL head Ghassan Salame concluded a 3-day visit to Washington where UNSMIL reported he had held in-depth discussions with senior USA Administration and congress officials. The visit come as part of his intensive efforts to restore a ‘‘unified international position on Libya to end to its current crisis’’, UNSMIL reported.
UNSC arms embargo?
The Salame Washington visit came as video clips and photographs purporting to show both sides of the Tripoli fighting receiving new arms supplies from their external backers. Both sides have long accused the other of receiving financial and military support from other countries.
On the battlefront..
On the battlefront, Mohamed Gnunu, the Official Spokesperson for the Faiez Serraj-aligned Government of National Accord (GNA) Volcano of Anger/Rage Operations Room, reported on Saturday that forty-two days after what he called the ‘‘failed coup attempt’’ by Khalifa Hafter, his Libyan National Army (LNA) and aligned forces, the GNA armed forces ‘‘continue their solidarity in withstanding the criminal gangs’’.
He said that the GNA forces ‘‘each day realize a new victory by draining the materiel of the rebel militias, in specific operations on all axes, by air and by road’’. Gnunu revealed that the pro-GNA troops were ‘‘awaiting military instructions to crush the enemy and cleanse the capital and all Libyan cities of its evil’’.
Gnunu reported that he GNA-aligned Libyan Air Force continues, on a daily basis, to strike at the positions of criminal gangs, the most recent of which was the execution of five combat sorties, which targeted heavy machinery in Gaser Ben Ghashir, and destroyed two tanks and heavy artillery, which were directed towards the centre of Tripoli.
He also reported that the GNA-aligned Libyan Air Force confirmed the ‘‘intensification of its reconnaissance aircraft coverage’’ of the area from the east of Sirte to Al-Jufra and Ras Ajdir, ‘‘coinciding with the beginning of its night operations’’.
The official GNA-aligned forces spokesperson said that their forces from the Central Military Region stationed in the southern and eastern axes continue their operations to cut off the supply of the criminal militias, especially between the Jafra and Shwerif, and to apprehend those fleeing the battlefield on the outskirts of Tripoli.
Gnunu placed full responsibility for the Zalla terror attack on the ‘‘criminal militias of the war criminal Hafter’’, who he said was ‘‘responsible for the chaos and insecurity in southern Libya, causing the resurgence of terrorist cells and their implementation of operations in Ghudwa, Fugha and Zalla.
He renewed the call to civilians caught up in hotbeds of tension to communicate with the GNA-aligned forces to facilitate their exit in coordination with humanitarian organizations in order to preserve their safety and security, and also to move away from the concentration of ‘‘criminal gangs, especially in Gaser Ben Ghshir and the Sug al-Khamis Msehil and Al-Asaba”.
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