UN condemns Turkish and GNA airstrikes in Libya

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The Head of UN Support Mission in Libya, Stephanie Williams, condemned on Tuesday the airstrikes conducted by Turkish drones in Western cities of Libya in support of the so-called Government of National Accord (GNA). “Military operations in and around Tarhouna caused new displacement and negatively impacted humanitarian access to the city.

I am concerned about GNA UAV attacks over the past two months on vehicles travelling between Mazdah and Tarhouna as well as in Bani Walid which caused collateral damage to vehicles carrying non-combat related items like food, goods, and fuel and resulted in civilian casualties”. Williams denounced to the UN Security Council, also calling on GNA to restore the civilian nature of Mitiga airport, the only operative in the Libyan capital Tripoli after the destruction by Tripoli and Misurata’s militias of the International airport in 2014.

“We are also concerned by attacks on civilians, desecration of corpses, retribution, including looting, robberies and torching of public and private properties, in western coastal towns recently seized by GNA forces”.  The Head of UN Support Mission in Libya added. On 14 April, following the GNA forces’ takeover of the city of Surman, the Martyr Othman Hamza Company, affiliated with the GNA, broke into Surman prison and unlawfully released 401 prisoners, including dangerous terrorists and human traffickers.

Referring to the Turkish role in the grab of al-Watiya military base, the UN official warned that “as has been the case on a number of occasions, we witnessed the direct involvement of foreign parties in this operation, either with UAVs or the presence on the ground of air defence systems, in blatant violation of the arms embargo”.

While people around the world are adjusting to the new normal of living with the global pandemic of COVID-19, millions of Libyans are experiencing a most abnormal and terrifying existence, under almost constant bombardment, frequent water and electricity cuts and compounded by restricted movement as a result of preventive COVID-19 measures, rendering the whole situation unbearable for the majority to celebrate the holy month of Ramadan in peace. Turkish regime of Recep Tayyip Erdogan is increasingly dispatching sophisticated and lethal weapons, and recruiting thousands Syrian mercenaries including children to fight in Libya along the GNA’s armed group and extremists.

In her briefing, Williams noted the GNA did not abide by the declared ceasefire and showed reluctance to reciprocate a unilaterally declared cessation of all military activities, announced by the Libyan National Army (LNA) of Khalifa Haftar, on 29 April, on the occasion of Ramadan. The UN envoy also expressed concern about the situation of refugees and migrants trapped in the North African country, stressing the need for an immediate truce and a return to a political dialogue under the auspices of the United Nations. The international community called several times for compliance with the arms embargo resolutions. Due to Turkish interference, the fighting is escalating in an unprecedented way in Libya.

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