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Explainer: What we know about the deadly Libya clashes | Explainer News

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At least 23 people have been killed and dozens more injured in clashes as violence threatens to escalate in a country divided between rival governments.

Deadly clashes broke out between rival Libyan militias in central Tripoli late Friday and early Saturday morning, with rival regimes vying to seize control of the oil-rich North African nation. Fears of escalating violence in a country divided between them have increased.

Armed fighters backing the UN-recognized government in Tripoli and forces loyal to rival Prime Minister Fatih Bashaga have engaged in a firefight that threatens civilians, and health officials are urging people to evacuate and keep them safe. seeking a truce to provide a safe passage. help the injured.

Tensions have escalated since Bashaga was appointed prime minister by the Tobruk-based Eastern Parliament in February, with Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dubeiba, head of the UN-recognized Government of National Unity (GNU), a concession of power. are refusing.

Here’s what we know so far.

(Al Jazeera)

How many victims were there?

  • At least 23 people were killed and dozens injured in the clashes, the country’s health ministry said.
  • Among those killed was Mustafa Baraka, a comedian known for his social media videos mocking militias and corruption. Baraka died after being shot in the chest, said Marek Merset, spokesman for the emergency services.
  • Merset said emergency services were still trying to evacuate the wounded and civilians caught in the fighting.
  • The Ministry of Health said 140 people were injured and 64 families had to be evacuated from the fighting area. The capital’s hospitals and medical centers were shelled, and ambulance teams said they were barred from evacuating civilians in an act “amounting to war crimes“.
Smoke billows into the sky after clashes in Tripoli
Smoke billows into the sky after clashes in Tripoli, Libya [File: Hazem Ahmed/Reuters]

Who are the warring parties?

  • Two rival militias have been implicated in the violence, one affiliated with Dbeibah and the other supporting the rival Bashagha government, which is led by rebel commander Khalifa Haftar, based in the east. supported by
  • Witnesses told Reuters that forces allied to Bashaga tried to seize territory from several directions in Tripoli on Saturday, but his main military convoy was sent to the coastal city of Misrata before reaching the capital. He said he returned to
  • Sources told Al Jazeera that militias backing Dhbeibah attempted to take over the headquarters of the Haitham al-Tajri forces backing Bashagah, leading to an exchange of heavy weapons.
Libyan armed forces member
Members of the 444th Brigade, a Libyan armed force supporting the Government of National Unity and Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dubeiba, set up a checkpoint with smoke rising in the background in the Ain Zala district of Tripoli, Libya. [File: Hazem Ahmed/Reuters]

What is behind the violence?

  • Tensions have risen as Dbeiba is being asked to relinquish power after Bashaga was appointed prime minister in February.
  • Dbeibah’s GNU was set up as part of a UN-led peace process following a series of previous violence, and recent clashes in Tripoli saw other pro-Bashagha units massing outside the capital. It said it was caused by fighter planes linked to Bashagha opening fire on a convoy in the capital during that time. city.
  • It accused Bashaga of withdrawing negotiations to resolve the crisis. Bashagha says that GNU’s permissions have expired. However, he has so far failed to become president in Tripoli because Dubeiba insists he only hand over power to an elected government.
  • A statement from the forces backing Dbeibah said they carried out an operation to push back a security threat in Tripoli posed by Haitham al-Tajouri’s forces. The purpose of the operation was to protect the city and its residents and to avoid prolonged tensions and clashes, the statement said.
Smoke billows into the sky after clashes in Tripoli, Libya
Smoke billows into the sky after clashes in Tripoli, Libya, 27 August 2022 [Hazem Ahmed/Reuters]

how is the reaction?

  • Turkey, which has military strongholds around Tripoli and has helped troops in the city to repel attacks in the east in 2020, called for an immediate ceasefire, saying “we will continue to support our Libyan brothers.”
  • In a statement, US Ambassador to Libya Richard Noland said Washington “condemned” the surge in violence and urged “an immediate ceasefire and UN-facilitated negotiations between the parties to the conflict.”
  • Tripoli’s city council blamed the ruling class for the worsening situation in the capital and urged the international community to “protect Libyan civilians”.
  • Municipal official Omar Weheba said Tripoli’s civil society institutions strongly condemned the violence, saying it “bleeded civilians, threatened security, and held participants accountable for destroying private and public property. ‘ said.

Fear of escalation?

  • Emadedin Badi, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, warned that the violence could escalate quickly. “Urban warfare has its own logic and is detrimental to both civilian infrastructure and people. Therefore, even if it is not a long-term war, this conflict, as we have already seen, can be highly destructive. will be
  • He added that the fighting could strengthen Haftar and those close to him. I guess.”

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