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Haftar backer UAE among major powers urging end to Libya fighting

More than a thousands have been killed in Libya [Getty]

Date of publication: 17 July, 2019

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The United States, France, Britain and Italy joined Egypt and the United Arab Emirates in voicing 'deep concern' over the violence around the capital Tripoli.

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UAE, Libya, Haftar,
Key powers including backers of a rebel leader called for a halt to fighting in Libya on Tuesday, warning that bloodshed was aggravating a crisis on multiple fronts.

The United States, France, Britain and Italy joined Egypt and the United Arab Emirates - two supporters, along with Saudi Arabia, of military strongman Khalifa Haftar - in voicing "deep concern" over the violence around the capital Tripoli.

The six powers "call for an immediate de-escalation and halt to the current fighting, and urge the prompt return to the UN-mediated political process," a joint statement said.

They warned that the fighting "has fuelled a growing humanitarian emergency," aggravating a crisis with migrants, and voiced fear that extremists would thrive in the security vacuum.

The countries "call on all parties to the Tripoli conflict to dissociate themselves from all such terrorists and individuals designated by the UN Sanctions Committee, and renew our commitment to see those responsible for further instability held accountable," they said.

Nearly 1,100 people have been killed in Haftar's months-long campaign to wrest control of Tripoli from the UN-recognised Government of National Accord.

While backing the government, Western powers earlier this year sent mixed signals, with US President Donald Trump praising Haftar in a phone call and France and Italy welcoming him on visits.

The UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are seen as key supporters of Haftar. In May, an investigation by Al-Jazeera Arabic TV revealed that cargo planes were found to be dropping off unidentified material at airbases controlled by general Haftar.

Reports earlier this week revealed the UAE was reportedly close to opening a military base in northern Niger close to the border with Libya, where Emirati-backed forces are fighting to take over the capital Tripoli.

New website Africa Intelligence reported this week that the oil-rich Gulf state is on the verge of opening the base in the Saharan country to further provide support for rogue Libyan general Khalifa Haftar.

Niger is already home to US, French and German military bases.

Haftar in April ordered his self-styled Libyan National Army on an offensive to take the Libyan capital from the UN-recognised Government of National Accord.

UAE has reportedly provided military support for Haftar in his current military offensive to take control of Tripoli in violation of a UN arms embargo on Libya.

The New York Times reported earlier this month that forces loyal to Libya's unity government had discovered French missiles at a base used by Haftar.

The newspaper claimed that markings on the missiles indicated they had been sold to the UAE in 2008.

The UAE has also attempted to build a military and naval base in Somaliland.

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