The US pulled out a contingent of its troops from Libya on Sunday (local time) amid deteriorating security situation near the capital city of Tripoli as fighting by warring parties escalate in the strife-torn North African nation.
“The security realities on the ground in Libya are growing increasingly complex and unpredictable. Even with an adjustment of the force, we will continue to remain agile in support of existing US strategy,” Marine Corps General Thomas Waldhauser, head of US Africa Command, said in a statement.
The US forces, who provides military support for anti-terror activities, diplomatic missions and enhancing regional security were temporarily relocated from Libya due to the “increased unrest”, CNN reported.
India also evacuated its entire contingent of peacekeeping forces comprising of 15 CRPF personnel from Tripoli after the situation in Libya “suddenly worsened”.
“The situation in Libya has suddenly worsened. There is fighting in Tripoli. Indian Embassy in Tunisia @IndiainTunisia has evacuated the entire contingent of 15 CRPF personnel yesterday itself. I appreciate the excellent work by the Indian Embassy in Tunisia. #Libya,” India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted on Sunday.
Several years of fighting in the war-torn nation after the death of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi showed no signs of stopping as Field Marshal General Khalifa Haftar is aiming to take control of Tripoli. Haftar, who has set his sights on claiming the capital city, has already gained control over several parts of eastern Libya.
The self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) claimed that it had launched the first air raid on a Tripoli suburb as part of their aim oust the internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and control Tripoli. The United Nations Mission to Libya (UNSMIL) called for a “humanitarian truce” from 4 pm to 6 pm (local time) in Tripoli, urging rival forces to halt fighting so that ambulances could safely take the injured civilians injured in clashes for immediate treatment.
The army aligned to Libya’s UN-backed GNA government announced a counteroffensive and vowed to reclaim all areas seized by Haftar. Addressing media persons here on Sunday, Colonel Mohamed Gnounou, spokesperson of GNA, said that the counteroffensive, dubbed as “Volcano of Anger”, was aimed at “purging all Libyan cities of aggressor and illegitimate forces”.
Resulting from years-long civil conflict, Libya has no single government currently, with LNA backing the Tobruk-based parliament, which governs eastern Libya. The GNA controls Libya’s western parts from Tripoli.
The UN in a statement noted that Libya’s UN-backed Prime Minister, Fayez al-Sarraj and Haftar held talks in Abu Dhabi in late February during which they agreed that national elections were necessary. Apart from capturing Tripoli, multiple tribes are fighting for control of Libya’s dwindling oil reserves, as well as terror groups like Islamic State, scattered across the North African nation.
Last week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was in Benghazi for talks with Haftar to chalk out a peace deal to end the fighting, but no agreement was reached.