Libyan PM accuses army leader of betrayal

Libyan PM accuses army leader of betrayal

The United States said it had temporarily withdrew the small contingent of American troops that were helping local forces combat Islamic State due to security conditions on the ground.

In another sign of the situation worsening on the ground, a contingent of U.S. forces supporting the U.S. Africa Command evacuated Libya for security reasons, a U.S. statement said.

He did not say where USA forces will relocate to.

Haftar, commander of the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA), launched an offensive on Thursday to take the capital, held by a UN-backed unity government and an array of militias.

Libya has remained beset by turmoil since 2011, when a NATO-backed uprising led to the ouster and death of President Muammar Gaddafi after four decades in power.

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Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, whose forces are battling to seize the capital Tripoli, is widely seen as a hawk hunting for greater power in violence-wracked Libya. The airport was destroyed in a previous bout of militia fighting in 2014.

Al-Mesmari said Hifter's forces declared Tripoli a no-fly zone for warplanes.

"I still hope it is possible to avoid a bloody confrontation in and around Tripoli", Guterres tweeted.

The LNA meanwhile announced it had carried out its first air raid on a Tripoli suburb, despite calls by the global community to halt hostilities.

At least one armed group from Misrata - whose forces are mostly loyal to the UN-backed government - arrived Saturday in eastern Tripoli to join the counter-offensive, according to an AFP photographer.

Tripoli is the home of Libya's internationally recognised government, which has the backing of the UN.

He did not say where the United States forces would be relocated.

Haftar's forces were driven back by a few kilometres on Friday evening after briefly seizing Tripoli's global airport, which was destroyed in 2014. In a televised address, the president of the Tripoli-based government said he had been "stabbed in the back" by Hifter after having offered him certain trade-offs to pave the way for a peaceful reconciliation.

The LNA claims to have reached the southern outskirts and taken its former global airport, though military officials in Tripoli deny this.

The UN Security Council held a close-door meeting late on Friday.

In Libya, the USA backs a United Nations-recognized government.

As clashes raged in the mainly farmland region of Wadi Raba and the disused global airport south of the capital, a spokesman for pro-GNA forces said a "counteroffensive" had been launched to push back Haftar´s forces.

Hifter's forces have sparked fears of a major showdown with the militias.

Both countries have provided support to General Haftar.

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