Haftar orders Libyan National Army to march on Tripoli

Haftar's forces already control much of Libya's east and south including the southern city of SebhaMore

Haftar's forces already control much of Libya's east and south including the southern city of SebhaMore

Strongman Khalifa Haftar orders his troops to "advance" on Tripoli, seat of the internationally-recognised unity government, despite United Nations chief warning against a major flare-up.

"There is no military solution".

General Haftar described the manoeuvre as a "victorious march" to "shake the lands under the feet of the unjust bunch" - a reference to rival militias that control Tripoli.

He also urged his forces not to open fire on any civilians or those who are unarmed.

Gharyan is the closest Hifter's forces have made it to Tripoli.

"The clock had struck and it's high time".

A move by the LNA into the regions surrounding Tripoli - where militias nominally in Sarraj's camp recently announced a broad coalition - risks turning brinkmanship into war as powerful militias elsewhere to confront Haftar.

Sirte is in central Libya controlled by a force from the western city of Mistrata allied to the Tripoli administration.

"To our army stationed on the border of Tripoli today, we continue the march of struggle and response to the appeal of our people in the capital as we promised them", said Haftar, who heads the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA), in an audio recording posted on his media office's Facebook account.

Dozens of militias have fought for control of the North African country since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

In the evening a brief skirmish lasting one hour was reported near Gharyan, a town south of Tripoli between the LNA and forces allied to Tripoli Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj, who relied on patches of armed groups with flexible loyalties.

"I am deeply concerned by the military movement taking place in Libya and the risk of confrontation", Guterres said in a tweet.

"Our governments oppose any military action in Libya and will hold accountable any Libyan faction that precipitates further civil conflict", said a joint statement by the United States, France, Britain, Italy and the United Arab Emirates.

Khalifa Haftar, head of the Libyan National Army (LNA), has ordered his forces to begin an offensive against Tripoli to "liberate it from terrorists", referring to the Government of National Accord, led by Fayez al-Sarraj and formed with the support of the United Nations and the EU.

"There is no military solution".

"Only intra-Libyan dialogue can solve Libyan problems", Guterres said on Thursday.

LNA is the main opponent of the UN-backed Libyan government based in the capital Tripoli in the west.

He earlier called for restraint from all sides.

The UN has said Haftar and Sarraj agreed at a meeting in Abu Dhabi last month to make a new attempt to organise the elections.

The conference the U.N.is helping to organize is aimed at forging agreement on a road map for elections to resolve the prolonged instability in Libya, an oil producer and a hub for refugees and migrants trekking across the Sahara in the hope of reaching Europe.

Gen Haftar has received backing from Egypt and the UAE.

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