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Libya: At least 25 killed as forces 'seize control of Tripoli international airport' | World News

Clashes in the southern part of Tripoli have left at least 25 people dead and 80 wounded, according to Libya's health ministry.

The ministry said the victims were fighters and civilians, including a whole family who died.

Some 2,800 people have been displaced by fighting for Libya's capital Tripoli, according to the country's UN humanitarian co-coordinator.

"The United Nations continues to call for a temporary humanitarian trick to allow for the provision of emergency services and the voluntary passage of civilians, including those wounded, from areas of conflict," it said in a statement.

Forces loyal to the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) outside of Tripoli's old airport
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Forces loyal to the Libyan Government or National Accord (GNA) outside of Tripoli's old airport

It comes as troops loyal to Libyan army commander Khalifa Haftar claimed to have seized control of the main airport in the capital two days after he ordered his forces to take over the seat of the country's UN-backed government.

In a post online, the media office attached to his forces claimed it now had full control of Tripoli international airport and was working to secure the facility.

It posted photos of troops inside the airport, saying "we are standing at the heart of the Tripoli international airport".

A US amphibious hovercraft departs with evacuees from Janzur, west of Tripoli, Libya, Sunday, April 7, 2019. The United States says it has temporarily withdrawn some of its forces from Libya due to deteriorating security conditions. The pullout comes as a Libyan commander & # 39; s forces advanced toward the capital of Tripoli and clashed with rival militias. A small contingent of American troops has been in Libya in recent years helping local forces combat Islamic State and al-Qaeda militants and pro
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A US amphibious hovercraft departs with evacuees from Janzur, west or Tripoli

Meanwhile, US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said Washington was "deeply concerned about fighting near Tripoli" and urgent talks to end the fighting.

"We have made clear that we are on the military offensive by Khalifa Haftar's forces and urge the immediate halt to these military operations against the Libyan capital," he said.

The US has also temporarily withdrawn some of its forces from Libya due to "security conditions on the ground".

Tripoli airport has been non-functional since it was badly damaged in 2014
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Tripoli airport has been non-functional since it was badly damaged in 2014

Libya is governed by rival authorities: the international backed government in Tripoli and the government in the east, which Mr Haftar is aligned to.

Both are backed by an array or militias.

Tripoli airport has not been functional since fighting in 2014 destroyed much of the facility.

Troops also reportedly captured Wadi el Rabeia, south of Tripoli, in clashes with rival militias backing the government of Fayez Sarraj.

Ahmed al Mesmari, a spokesman for the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Mr Haftar, said 14 troops had been killed since the offensive was declared.

He claimed rival militias launched four air strikes on Saturday targeting Mr Haftar's position in the town of al Aziziya. No casualties were reported.

Mr. Haftar stated he was deploying forces to advance on Tripoli on Thursday, sparking fears the conflict could escalate as rival militias from Zawiya and Misrata in the West mobilized to confront his troops.

On Saturday, the UN Security Council called on his forces to stop all military movements and urged all forces in Libya to "de-escalate and stop military activity".

The LNA offensive escalates a power struggle that has riven Libya since the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.

A UN conference is due to be staged in the southwestern town of Ghadames on 14-16 April to try to establish elections as a way to end the factional anarchy.

Ghassan Salame, UN special envoy to Libya, said: "We have worked for one year for this national conference, we won't give up this political work quickly."

Mr Haftar, 75, has been viewed as a new version of former dictator Mr Gaddafi.

He already told Arabiya TV his offensive would continue until terrorism was defeated.

A former officer in Gaddafi's army, he enjoys support in Egypt and the UAE, which see him as a buffer against Islamists, according to UN reports.

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