Libya's Haftar accused of war crimes after killing civilians in air raids

Published 02.12.2019 16:39

Libya's internationally recognized government Monday condemned airstrikes carried out by Gen. Khalifa Haftar's forces, the leader of the Benghazi-based Libyan National Army (LNA), that killed at least 16 people, mostly children.

"These actions are tantamount to war crimes," the Interior Ministry of the U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) said in a statement. It called on the international community to "assume its responsibility toward [halting] these criminal acts that target and terrorize civilians."

The Tripoli-based government said Sunday at least five children were killed in airstrikes by eastern Libyan forces in al-Swani, a residential area south of Tripoli. The deaths came shortly after nine children and two women were killed Sunday in the southern city of Murzuq as a result of bombardment by drones operated by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which backs Khalifa Haftar's rogue administration, local news outlets reported.

According to the Libyan news network Arraed LG+, Murzuq hospital said it received the bodies of nine children and two women, one of them pregnant, who were killed as a result of bombardment by drones belonging to the UAE. The news website said that the UAE-operated drones bombed a house in the Umm Alarnab area, resulting in casualties.

Libya's internationally recognized government has repeatedly blamed the UAE for supporting Haftar forces while the Gulf country has denied the accusations. Haftar's militia launched an offensive in April against the Tripoli-based government, seeking to capture Tripoli from the GNA but has so far been unsuccessful. Since April, fighting has killed at least 1,093 people and wounded 5,752, while some 120,000 others have been displaced, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Haftar, a former officer of Moammar Gadhafi's regime, has been trying to destroy the Tripoli-based GNA for months, enjoys varying levels of support from the UAE, Egypt and France.

The Libyan conflict has drawn in a range of regional and international actors who are all competing for influence. Since the country has become the power projection stage for several regional and international actors, there was a heated exchange of accusations.

Egypt, which has been acting like a mouthpiece for the UAE, accused other countries of financing militias. Qatar, on the other hand, claimed that the UAE-backed forces in Libya were committing war crimes.

Libya faces a series of problems, including migration, a worsening humanitarian situation and internal conflict. The disputes among international actors and the indifference of many involved powers have only deepened the problems.

Attempts to find a solution, with the help of certain international powers, have so far been futile. On the contrary, the division among the country's rival factions has widened. Sarraj, who has been leading a third government in the country but is allied with Tripoli, blamed Western governments for their inaction.

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