The United Nations-brokered administration in Libya this week reportedly accused forces loyal to warlord Gen. Khalifa Haftar of using cluster bombs and internationally-banned munitions carrying a phosphorous chemical payload in Tripoli.
In April, Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) launched an offensive to take Tripoli from the armed forces allied with the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) headquartered in the capital and led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.
With the help of Russia, France, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Saudi Arabia, Gen. Haftar from the breakaway government in eastern Libya has gained control of most of the oil-rich North African country.
On Thursday, the Libya Herald reported:
The [Fayez] Serraj-aligned Volcano of Rage Operations Room (Burkan Alghadab), which coordinates the fight against the Khalifa Hafter forces, claimed in a press briefing yesterday that they have achieved several successes in the battlefield and accuse the Hafter forces of using cluster bombs and internationally banned phosphorus bombs.
Their claims come as reports indicate increased fighting in and around the disused Tripoli International Airport.
On Wednesday, the GNA also told reporters that “foreign warplanes” backing Haftar bombed civilians in and around Tripoli, the Libya Herald noted.
‘‘They will not get away with it,” the GNA reportedly declared.
In recent days, both PM Serraj and Gen. Haftar have dismissed negotiations to end the ongoing conflict, primarily based in and around Tripoli.
While Haftar vowed to annihilate the “terrorist militias,” Serraj promised to crush the warlord and his forces.
“We are going to defeat him,” Serraj declared, the Times reported Friday.
“Once we defeat Haftar and force him to return from where he came, once the cannons are silent then, only then we will be able to resume talks,” he added.
On Wednesday, Haftar reportedly pledged to press on with the Tripoli operation until the capital is clear of what he described as “terrorist militias.”
“Our military operations will not stop” until Tripoli is taken, Haftar proclaimed, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
“The situation is excellent, and I call on the Libyans to ignore rumors about our withdrawal,” the general reportedly also said, adding that the Tripoli offensive “will not stop before all its objectives are reached.”
Libya has descended into chaos since the U.S.-backed overthrow of dictator Moammar Gaddafi with rival governments competing for power and jihadi groups like the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) and al-Qaeda operating in the country.
Haftar’s international supporters believe he can restore stability in Libya.
Fighting in Tripoli alone has killed 691 people so far, including 41 civilians, and wounded 4,012 others, 135 of them civilians, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).