Shelling intensify in Tripoli; Many dead
At least 12 people were killed this week in Tripoli in three separate shelling incidents attributed to the Khalifa Haftar-led Libyan Arab Armed Forces. The rebel forces have stepped up their attacks on the city after setbacks in April to the UN-recognized Government of National Accord. This has intensified the rebels’ year-long effort to capture the city, which has resulted in hundreds of civilian deaths and hundreds of thousands of displacements.
In the first attack on Wednesday, artillery fell on two Tripoli neighborhoods, according to government spokespersons, killing five and wounding at least 46, including children and paramedics. Two days later, another shelling hit close to the diplomatic neighborhood, near the periphery of the Italian Embassy. Here, three people including a civilian and two policemen were killed and four others were injured.
This attack drew widespread condemnation from the international community, saying it didn’t comply with international laws of combat. Rome said, “These attacks are unacceptable and denote contempt for international law and human life.” The European Union denounced the assault as did the US embassy, which urged the warring sides to stop fighting each other and instead turn their energies to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. These violations are being documented to be shared with the International Criminal Court, according to the UN Mission in Libya.
On Saturday, another shell fired at a home in a residential neighborhood killed four people from the same family, according to government sources. The incident happened around Iftar, the time when Muslims break their fast for the day during the month of Ramadan, and there was a delay in getting ambulances to reach the site of the attack.
A spokesperson for the rebels said that they weren’t breaking any international laws and strived to protect diplomatic and civilian areas. These attacks have been carried out by “terrorists” who were trying to malign Haftar’s campaign, they said. The two sides in Libya’s civil war have been fighting each other since 2015, after being unable to agree on the direction the country must take after the death of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The east and west campaigns are being backed by different foreign powers – Haftar is being supported by France, Russia, Egypt and UAE while the Tripoli government has the support of Turkey, Italy and Qatar among others.
Violence grips Libya’s capital with the rebel forces launching a desperate attack to reclaim Tripoli from the officially-recognized government.