Migrants evacuated as confident Tripoli fighters tell Haftar: 'We are coming'

Fighters loyal to the internationally recognised Government of National Accord run for cover during clashes with forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar.
Fighters loyal to the internationally recognised Government of National Accord run for cover during clashes with forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar.PHOTO: AFP
Fighters loyal to the internationally recognised Government of National Accord fire their weapons during clashes with forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar.
Fighters loyal to the internationally recognised Government of National Accord fire their weapons during clashes with forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar.PHOTO: AFP
Fighters loyal to the internationally recognised Government of National Accord hold a position during clashes with forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar.
Fighters loyal to the internationally recognised Government of National Accord hold a position during clashes with forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar.PHOTO: AFP

TRIPOLI (REUTERS) - The United Nations evacuated on Thursday (April 25) more than 350 migrants from a detention centre in southern Tripoli where a fierce battle raged as fighters from rival Libyan camps traded rockets and artillery shells.

The Libyan National Army (LNA), led by commander Khalifa Haftar, which is allied to a rival government in eastern Libya, has mounted an offensive on Tripoli but has so far failed to breach the city's southern defences.

The group of migrants could be seen travelling on Thursday in two buses to a detention centre in Zawiya, a town 40km west of the capital, bringing the total evacuated since Wednesday to around 675.

They came from a facility in the Qasr Ben Gashir district run by the UN-backed government in Tripoli, an area that has become the main theatre of fighting.

At the same time a Reuters reporter saw in the Ain Zara suburb, also located in southern Tripoli, heavy clashes with both sides using artillery and anti-aircraft guns.

Forces loyal to the Tripoli government have managed push back the LNA on some southern frontlines though the LNA was still fighting inside southern Tripoli. The Tripoli forces have gained ground in some parts of Ain Zara.

Gunfire rang through a narrow street packed with pickup trucks mounted with anti aircraft guns as fighters allied to Tripoli forces shouted: "Haftar we are coming".

 
 
 

One fighter from Zintan, a region west of the capital, was firing his anti-aircraft gun for several minutes.

Later, he was killed by an incoming rocket, his comrades told Reuters.

The LNA also still holds the forward base of Gharyan, a town 80km south of Tripoli, which is difficult to take due to its mountainous location.

Hospitals are struggling with chronic shortages of medical supplies amid power outages and weakened water pumping stations, the aid agency said in a statement after three weeks of clashes.

"It is crucial that hospitals, medical facilities, health staff and vehicles transporting the wounded are allowed to carry out their activities safely," said International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in a statement.

The World Health Organization said on Twitter that 278 people have been killed in the last three weeks, while 1,332 others have been wounded.