By Sami Zaptia.
London, 10 June 2020:
The U.S. Embassy said yesterday that the U.S. is concerned for the continued escalation in Sirte. It said that it shares the immediate concerns about yet another humanitarian crisis in Libya – this time in Sirte.
The statement is referring to the fighting currently on the outskirts of Sirte between forces aligned to the internationally recognized government in Tripoli and forces aligned to the Khalifa Hafter-led Libyan National Army (LNA). Since April, Hafter’s LNA have been pushed back by the pro-Tripoli forces at breakneck speed from western Libya to the outskirts of Sirte.
The international community, including UNSMIL, have been calling for a ceasefire and a return to talks, but emboldened by their recent military successes and Turkish military support, the pro-Tripoli forces want to push Hafter’s forces out of Sirte and the strategic Jufra airbase.
It will be recalled that the Cairo Libya peace initiative announced on 6 June had called for a ceasefire by 06.00 hrs 8 June.
The U.S statement said that having worked with Libyans and others in the international community to help Sirte recover following the ISIS occupation, there is a special interest in ensuring the people of this city do not have to experience another devastating battle in their city.
It added that continued escalation in Sirte will only compound the suffering of civilians, sow divisions that can potentially be exploited by extremist actors, and divert resources away from Libya’s COVID-19 response.
The U.S. embassy said the U.S. joins UNSMIL in calling on all parties to the conflict in Libya to de-escalate, respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, and refrain from acts of retribution and vandalism which unlawfully target civilians and civilian infrastructure. It said violators will be held accountable.
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