Libya: Forces allied to Tripoli capture 145 of Haftar’s forces

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Military vehicles, which were confiscated from Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar's troops, are seen in Zawiyah, west of Tripoli, Libya April 5, 2019. REUTERS/Hani Amara
Military vehicles, which were confiscated from Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar’s troops, are seen in Zawiyah, west of Tripoli, Libya April 5, 2019. REUTERS/Hani Amara

Libyan forces allied to the internationally recognized government in Tripoli have taken 145 troops prisoner from the Eastern forces, a commander said on Friday.

The prisoners were captured in the town of Zawiya west of Tripoli, said Mohamed Alhudairi, commander of the operations room for the western region.

He told Reuters 60 vehicles had also been confiscated.

This comes after East Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar ordered his troops on Thursday to march on the capital Tripoli, the base of the internationally recognized government.

Haftar, who commands the Libya National Army (LNA) from its eastern base of Benghazi, earlier took over the town of Gharyan, 100km south of Tripoli, following brief skirmishes with forces allied to Tripoli-based Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj.

The UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) is preparing its air and manpower to defend of the capital, while armed groups from the coastal city of Misrata, who oppose Haftar, moved to Tripoli to defend it, residents said.

 “There was a group of infiltrators from the 107 battalion who attacked Zawiya, which led to around 145 prisoners. There were also around 60 weapons confiscated as well,” Mohamed Al Hudairi, Commander of Operations Room for the Western Region told reporters.

The escalation surprised the United Nations, whose Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spent Thursday night in the heavily fortified U.N. compound in a Tripoli suburb.

Guterres is flying to Benghazi on Friday to meet Haftar.

He will also go to Tobruk, another eastern city, to meet lawmakers of the House of Representatives, which is also allied to Haftar.

https://twitter.com/antonioguterres/status/1114070254303444992

“My aim remains the same: Avoid a military confrontation. I reiterate that there is no military solution for the Libyan crisis, only a political one,” Guterres said on Twitter.

 

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