Libya in middle of "all out confrontation" between two rival groups

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Tarek Mitri, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz

Libya is in the middle of an "all out confrontation" between two rival groups, the Secretary-General's Special Representative to the country has warned.

Mr Tarek Mitri told the Security Council via video teleconference on Thursday that the confrontation, born out of deep political polarization, is playing out at Tripoli's international airport.

The fighting has pitted militias that support retired Army General Khalifa Haftar against Islamist militias.

At least 30 people have been killed in the clashes, the airport facilities have been extensively damaged and planes have been grounded.

A call from the country's interim government for an immediate and unconditional cease-fire has so far gone unheeded, the Special Envoy said.

"As the number of military actors mobilizing and consolidating their presence within the capital continues to grow, there is a mounting sense of a probable imminent and significant escalation in the conflict. The stakes are high for all sides."  (15″)

Mr Mitri, who is also the head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), was forced to cancel a political dialogue previously scheduled to take place ahead of the legislative elections.

The aim of the meeting, he explained, was to bring together representatives of the major Libyan actors to agree on a number of issues central to the transition process, including security and other divisive issues.

With the present armed confrontation continuing, he noted, it may become more difficult to bring the conflicting forces to the dialogue table.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration:  1’31″

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