Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar’s forces push into south of Tripoli

A spokesman said eastern Libyan forces seized the Tripoli International Airport seen from the front on Friday

Tajani said the European Union was concerned over the recent developments in Libya that have seen General Khalifa Haftar and his forces advance on the capital of Tripoli, Il Giornale reports.

Forces loyal to Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar were pushed back Friday from a key checkpoint less than 30 kilometres from Tripoli, checking their lightning advance on the capital, a security source said.

There were no reports of significant fighting on Saturday, a day after an LNA spokesman and residents reported that Haftar's forces had seized Tripoli's former worldwide airport. He said five of his troops were killed.

However, a spokesperson for the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) announced later on Libya al-Ahrar TV that they had reclaimed the airport from Haftar's forces and that clashes were ongoing in Qasr bin Ghashir.

Haftar then ordered his forces to march on the capital, saying in an audio recording posted online: "We are coming Tripoli, we are coming".

Haftar's dramatic bid to take Tripoli came as a meeting of Group of Seven (G7) foreign ministers was being held in northern France with the club issuing a statement on Friday urging an immediate halt to "all military activity and movements toward Tripoli".

From there, Haftar's forces moved north, first taking the village of Suq al-Khamis, about 40 km from Tripoli, after some fighting, a resident and an eastern military source said.

Concluding, the Russian top diplomat underlined that Russia and Egypt both advocate for a diplomatic resolution of conflicts in Africa and the Middle East.

Guterres tweeted his statement from Tripoli, where he had been personally making final preparations for the UN-supported National Conference aimed at finding a solution to the political impasse in Libya, before leaving the country late on Friday. Guterres has insisted that Libya needs a political solution, not a military one, and said the U.N.is available to facilitate a peace process.

Pro-government militiamen from the coastal town of Zawiya, west of Tripoli, retook the base after a "short exchange of fire", a source said on condition of anonymity.

Haftar, who has seized much of eastern Libya, backs a rival administration and has repeatedly vowed to seize Tripoli and "cleanse" it of "terrorists and mercenaries".

The Prime Minister of Libya Fayez al-Serra was filmed preparing the defence of the city.

"Individuals that actually pledged allegiance to Haftar switched sides when they saw the army of Haftar marching into town", said Harchaoui, a research fellow at the Clingendael Institute think tank.

The LNA's move on Tripoli has escalated a power struggle that has splintered Libya into a patchwork of competing power bases since the overthrow of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Pictures posted on social media of men in military uniform sitting on the ground purported to show some of those taken prisoner, but their authenticity could not immediately be verified.

After a closed-door emergency meeting in NY, the Security Council called on Haftar's forces to halt their advance and warned that those responsible for re-igniting the conflict will be held responsible.

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