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U.N.: ‘Indiscriminate Shelling’ on Libyan Capital’s Residential District ‘War Crimes’

Ghassan Salame, UN special envoy for Libya and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), speaks during an interview with AFP at his office in the capital Tripoli on April 18, 2019. (Photo by Mahmud TURKIA / AFP) (Photo credit should read MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images)
MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty
EDWIN MORA

The head of the United Nations mission in Libya on Wednesday blasted “in the strongest terms” warlord Gen. Khalifa Haftar’s ongoing offensive to take the capital of Tripoli from troops loyal to the internationally recognized administration, accusing his eastern forces of committing “war crimes” with “indiscriminate” shelling overnight that struck densely-populated area.

In a press release, the international body noted that U.N. Special Representative Ghassan Salame (pictured) condemned the attack after civilians – including women, children, and an entire family – were reportedly killed and wounded by the fighting in Tripoli’s Abu Salim district.

Salame wrote on Twitter Wednesday: “Horrible night of random shelling of residential areas. For the sake of 3 million civilians living in Greater Tripoli, these attacks should stop. NOW!”

“The use of indiscriminate, explosive weapons in civilian areas constitutes a war crime,” Salame, who also heads the U.N. Support Mission in Libya, added in a statement.

Salame extended, “with great sadness,” his “deepest condolences” to the victim’s families and wished the injured a speedy recovery.

“Liability for such actions lies not only with the individuals who committed the indiscriminate attacks, but also potentially with those who ordered them”, he stressed, without explicitly naming Haftar who, along with his Libyan National Army (LNA), launched the offensive to take Tripoli on April 4.

Both the LNA and forces loyal to the U.N.-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA) headquartered in Tripoli and led by the U.S.-backed Prime Minister Fayes al-Sarraj reportedly blame one another for the bombing in the capital’s district.

“The artillery killed at least two people and wounded eight, Osama Ali, spokesman for a Tripoli emergency body, told Reuters, without saying who was behind the shelling. Another official told Libya’s Alahrar channel four had been killed and 20 wounded,” Reuters reveals.

Overall, Reuters notes, “the conflict has brought a growing humanitarian toll – 174 people killed, 756 injured and almost 20,000 displaced, according to the latest United Nations tallies – and sunk for now an international peace plan.”

Gen. Haftar and his Libyan National Army (LNA) have conquered most of the North African country with the ongoing help of neighboring Egypt, Russia, France, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The LNA is fighting on behalf of the breakaway government based in eastern Libya’s Tobruk region.

Since the Haftar-Sarraj conflict started early this month, the internal displacement of people reached an unprecedented 25,000, the U.N. revealed.

“At least 820,000 people, including some 250,000 children, are currently in dire need of humanitarian assistance,” the international body added.

The U.S. and NATO-backed overthrow of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi plunged the North African nation into conflict with rival factions and jihadi groups like Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) and al-Qaeda seizing on the unrest to entrench themselves in the region.

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