Published: Sun, April 14, 2019
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Egypt's Sissi meets Libyan strongman Haftar in Cairo

Egypt's Sissi meets Libyan strongman Haftar in Cairo

"President Sisi stressed Egypt's support for the efforts of counter-terrorism and fighting the extremist groups and militants to achieve security and stability in Libya", Egyptian presidential spokesman Bassam Rady said in the statement.

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) on Sunday condemned attacks on civilian areas and institutions in the Libyan capital Tripoli, which is witnessing violent battles between the UN-backed government forces and the eastern-based army.

The Libyan commander has modeled his political style of authoritarian leadership after Sissi, himself an army general turned president.

But Fayez al-Serraj's National Accord government has managed to halt the advance for now, aided by forces with machine-guns on pickups and steel containers across the road into Tripoli.

Observers fear a civil conflict matching the 2011 rebellion that led to the ouster and death of dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Sisi, a former army chief, has led a far-reaching crackdown on Islamists with Egypt and has blamed Libya-based militants for some cross-border attacks.

It is not clear whether Gen Haftar's surprise march on Tripoli was launched with the prior knowledge or the approval of the Egyptians. Moreover, militias, mostly Islamist, have held sway over large regions, particularly in the west and south of the country.

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Haftar's forces have been conducting a military offensive to take control of the capital, Tripoli, since early April.

WHO's Libya account said on Twitter the organisation was sending medical supplies and more staff to Tripoli, and denounced "repeated attacks on health care workers, vehicles" during the fighting which erupted on April 4.

At least 15,700 people have been forced to flee their homes because of the conflict, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), with a "significant number" of others still stuck in live conflict zones.

The UN said on Sunday that a school was bombed in Ain Zara southwest of Tripoli, without saying who was responsible.

"The humanitarian community repeats its warning that continuing to attack medical and civilian facilities is a violation of global humanitarian law and human rights law", OCHA said in a statement.

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