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Trump congratulates Haftar on 'fighting terrorism'

Timothy Jones
April 19, 2019

The UN's health says at least 213 people have now died in two weeks of fighting near the Libyan capital, Tripoli. The WHO has called on warring parties to avoid civilian deaths.

Burnt-out cars in Tripoli
Image: Reuters/A. Jadallah

Clashes between rival militias fighting for control of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, has killed at least 213 people and wounded more than 1,000 others, the United Nations' health agency said on Friday.

In a tweet containing the updated death toll from more than two weeks of fighting, the World Health Organization also warned against attacks on civilians, health workers and health facilities, saying they were "not a target."

Fighting erupted in Libya after Khalifa Haftar, who commands the self-styled Libyan National Army, ordered his troops to launch an offensive on Tripoli to oust a UN-backed government on April 4.

Read moreLibya's battle for Tripoli — what you need to know 

Country in turmoil

Haftar, who supports a rival administration in the east of the country, has seized growing control of southwestern Libya in recent months. He has rejected calls to call off his offensive, which has raised fears of renewed civil conflict.

Later on Friday, the White House said US President Donald Trump had called Haftar earlier in the week to acknowledge "Field Marshal Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources, and the two discussed a shared vision for Libya’s transition to a stable, democratic political system."

The call came amid efforts by the UN to broker a ceasefire. On Thursday, the US and Russia opposed a UN ceasefire bid that was backed by the United Kingdom, France and Germany.

Libya has been in political turmoil since the ouster and killing of long-time dictator Moammar Ghadafi in a NATO-back uprising in 2011.

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