UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

Landmines planted by Libya rebels kill, injure nearly 140 in Tripoli: UN

Iran Press TV

Tuesday, 07 July 2020 2:47 PM

Landmines planted by rebels in Libya have killed and wounded nearly 140 people in the south of the capital, Tripoli, over the past two months, a United Nations (UN) official says.

Stephanie Williams, the head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), said in a statement on Tuesday that mines planted by the Libyan rebels "in civilian neighborhoods" had since late May "reportedly killed and injured 81 civilians and 57 non-civilians, including mine clearance workers."

"This is a potential violation of international law," Williams added, underlining that 57 explosions had so far occurred in the region due to landmines and other explosives planted by the rebels, who are under the command of a military strongman named Khalifa Haftar.

The UN official also expressed regret about the death of two humanitarian mine clearance workers on Monday in the south of the Libyan capital.

The UN, which recognizes the Libyan government based in Tripoli, and international rights groups have already voiced concern about possible war crimes after the discovery of mass graves in areas left behind by retreating militias under Haftar's command.

Libya has been in chaos since 2011, when a popular uprising and a NATO intervention led to the ouster of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Since 2014, two rival seats of power have emerged, namely the internationally-recognized Libyan government, headed by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj in Tripoli, and another group, based in the eastern city of Tobruk, supported militarily by rebels under the command of Haftar.

Haftar's rebel forces – who are backed by the UAE, France, Russia, and Egypt – launched an offensive to seize the capital and unseat Sarraj's government in April 2019, triggering some of the most intense fighting in the country.

The Libyan government forces have recently managed to gain the upper hand, with crucial help from Turkey.

The Libyan forces are also preparing to retake the strategic city of Sirte, which lies in an oil-rich region on the Mediterranean coastline.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list