Libya fighting kills 56, European powers jostle over conflict
According to the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO), the battle for Tripoli between the internationally recognized Libyan government and forces loyal to renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar has so far killed 56 people and injured another 266, while 6,000 Tripoli residents have been displaced.
Haftar is leading a push for Tripoli in an attempt to overthrow the government in Tripoli. After advancing to 7 miles from the center of the Libyan capital, his troops have now been stalled by forces loyal to the government.
The conflict on Thursday caused a rift between Italy and France after the latter blocked a European Union statement urging Haftar to halt his campaign. Haftar, whose stronghold is in eastern Libya, has received military support from France in the past years, which is linked to the fact that France has oil assets in the region under Haftar’s control. Italy’s Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini stated that “[i]t would be very serious if France for economic or commercial reasons had blocked an EU initiative to bring peace to Libya and would support a party that is combatting,” adding that he “will not stand by and watch.”
The ongoing conflict in Libya is the second internal conflict since Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi was ousted in 2011 following a NATO-led military intervention in which France played a leading role.