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IS affiliates execute abducted judge in Libya

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Tripoli: Islamic state (IS) affiliates in Libya have executed a judge who was abducted a week ago, the Libyan Judicial Organization said on Wednesday.

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Mohamed Al-Namli, a member of Al-Khoms appeal court, was found dead on Tuesday near Al-Harawa town with signs of torture on his body, the organization said, holding IS affiliates responsible for the murder, Xinhua reported.

Al-Namli was kidnapped by an unidentified armed group, which is most likely to be affiliated with the IS, in the city of Sirte, 450 km east of the capital Tripoli, when he was passing through the city’s western gate.

The city of Sirte is controlled by militants loyal to the IS after Libya Dawn militias evacuated the city.

Judicial officials in Libya, including consultants and judges in Tripoli, Benghazi and Derna, have been targeted in numerous cases.

Libya, a major oil producer in North Africa, has been witnessing a frayed political process after former leader Gaddafi was toppled during the 2011 political turmoil.

The country is now deadlocked in a dogfight between the pro-secular army and Islamist militants, which has led to a security vacuum for homegrown extremism to brew.

(IANS)

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Airstrike Escalates Fighting in Libya, Authorities Close Tripoli’s Only Functioning Airport

Russia objects to the British-drafted resolution blaming Haftar for the latest flare-up in violence when his LNA advanced to the outskirts of Tripoli earlier this month, diplomats said.

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Libya
Libyan protesters attend a demonstration to demand an end to the Khalifa Haftar's offensive against Tripoli, in Martyrs' Square in central Tripoli, Libya, April 19, 2019. VOA

Explosions shook the Libyan capital Tripoli late Saturday after an airstrike, residents said, in an escalation of a two-week offensive by eastern forces on the city held by the internationally recognized government.

A Reuters reporter and several interviewed residents said they saw an aircraft circling for more than 10 minutes over the capital with a humming sound before opening fire on a southern suburb, scene of the heaviest fighting between the rival forces.

Reuters was unable to confirm whether an aircraft or unmanned drone was behind the strike, which triggered heavy anti-aircraft fire. Residents had reported drone strikes in the past days, but there has been no confirmation and explosions heard in the city center this time were louder than in previous days.

Residents counted several missile strikes, which apparently hit a military camp of forces loyal to Tripoli in the Sabaa district.

Members of the Libyan internationally recognized government forces fire during fighting with Eastern forces in Ain Zara, Tripoli, Libya, April 20, 2019.
Members of the Libyan internationally recognized government forces fire during fighting with Eastern forces in Ain Zara, Tripoli, Libya, April 20, 2019. VOA

Haftar stymied

The Libyan National Army (LNA) force loyal to commander Khalifa Haftar started an offensive two weeks ago but has been unable to breach the government’s southern defenses.

If a drone strike was confirmed, this would point to more sophisticated warfare. The LNA has so far mainly used aging Soviet-made jets from the air force of Moammar Gadhafi, toppled in 2011, lacking precision firepower and helicopters, according to residents and military sources.

Tripoli, Libya
Tripoli, Libya

​In the past the United Arab Emirates and Egypt have supported Haftar with airstrikes during campaigns to take eastern Libya. Both countries flew airstrikes on Tripoli in 2014 during a different conflict to help a Haftar-allied force, U.S. officials said at the time.

Since 2014 the UAE and Egypt have provided the LNA with military equipment such as aircraft and helicopters, helping Haftar to gain the upper hand in Libya’s eight-year conflict, past U.N. reports have established.

The UAE even built an air base in Al Khadim in eastern Libya, one such report said in 2017.

The air strikes, which were also filmed by residents in video posted online, came after a day of heavy clashes in southern districts, with shelling audible in the city center.

A Libyan fighter loyal to the Government of National Accord fires a rocket propelled grenade during clashes with forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar south of the capital Tripoli's suburb of Ain Zara, April 20, 2019.
A Libyan fighter loyal to the Government of National Accord fires a rocket propelled grenade during clashes with forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar south of the capital Tripoli’s suburb of Ain Zara, April 20, 2019. VOA

Trump’s call to Haftar

The violence spiked after the White House said on Friday that President Donald Trump spoke by with Haftar earlier in the week.

The disclosure of the call and a U.S. statement that it “recognized Field Marshal Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources” has boosted the commander’s supporters and enraged his opponents.

Western powers and the Gulf have been divided over a push by Haftar’s forces to seize Tripoli, undermining calls by the United Nations for a ceasefire.

Both sides claimed progress in southern Tripoli Saturday, but no more details were immediately available.

A Reuters TV cameraman visiting the southern Khalat Furgan suburb heard heavy shelling but saw no apparent change in the frontline.

On Friday, two children were killed in shelling in southern Tripoli, residents said. The fighting has killed 220 people and wounded 1,066, the World Heath organization (WHO) said.

It was unclear why the White House waited several days to announce Monday’s phone call.

UN cease-fire

On Thursday, both the United States and Russia said they could not support a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Libya at this time.

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Russia objects to the British-drafted resolution blaming Haftar for the latest flare-up in violence when his LNA advanced to the outskirts of Tripoli earlier this month, diplomats said.

The United States did not give a reason for its decision not to support the draft resolution, which would also call on countries with influence over the warring parties to ensure compliance and for unconditional humanitarian aid access in Libya. (IANS)