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Asia

Fighting rages in Libya as uncertainty looms over UN-backed peace talks

Libya's internationally-recognized government has carried out airstrikes on multiple targets in Tripoli, which is controlled by a rival administration. A UN envoy has warned the ongoing unity talks in Morocco might fail.

Saqer al-Joroushi, a Libyan air force commander, said on Saturday that the official government hit Tripoli's Matiga airport and a military camp used by the rival Libya Dawn group.

Tripoli is currently under Libya Dawn's control, which took over the country's capital in August last year, expelling the fighters from the city of Zintan who had occupied the city after a western-backed movement against Gadhafi toppled the former regime.

The attacks came a day after the government of internationally-recognized Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni pledged to "liberate" Tripoli from rival forces. Fighters loyal to the PM have been confined to the eastern parts of the strife-torn North African country.

Since the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi's government in 2011, Libya has plunged into a civil war, with rival groups setting up two governments and two parliaments, each backed by heavily armed former rebels.

Post-Gaddafi rulers have struggled to impose order with much of the country paralyzed by political infighting and armed conflicts.

Peace talks in jeopardy

Meanwhile, the UN's Libya envoy Bernardino Leon warned that ongoing peace talks between rival factions might fail.

The UN-backed three-day talks began on Friday in Morocco with an aim to reach a deal on the formation of a national unity government.

"An agreement is going to be difficult. We are still a long way off," Leon told the Spanish newspaper El Pais from Morocco on Saturday.

Leon criticized the latest military offensive and said it threatened international efforts to reach a peace deal.

Leon said that both camps had "the hardliners and the moderates."

"The moderates want to reach an agreement, while the hardliners prefer a military solution, they want to impose it on the other party by force," the UN envoy said.

shs/msh (Reuters, AFP)

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