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UN calls for Libya cease-fire, says no military solution

By EDITH M. LEDERERSeptember 12, 2019
FILE - In this Aug. 14, 2017, file photo, Libyan militia commander Gen. Khalifa Hifter meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Russia. The U.N. Security Council is stepping up its call for a lasting cease-fire in Libya, saying there can be no military solution to the fighting sparked by the rebel commander's offensive launched five months ago to take control of the capital Tripoli. A resolution adopted unanimously by the council Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, extending the mandate of the U.N. political mission in Libya until Sept. 15, 2020, calls on countries with influence on the parties to bring about a cease-fire and restart a U.N.-facilitated political process. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 14, 2017, file photo, Libyan militia commander Gen. Khalifa Hifter meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Russia. The U.N. Security Council is stepping up its call for a lasting cease-fire in Libya, saying there can be no military solution to the fighting sparked by the rebel commander's offensive launched five months ago to take control of the capital Tripoli. A resolution adopted unanimously by the council Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, extending the mandate of the U.N. political mission in Libya until Sept. 15, 2020, calls on countries with influence on the parties to bring about a cease-fire and restart a U.N.-facilitated political process. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev, File)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council stepped up its call for a lasting cease-fire in Libya on Thursday, saying there can be no military solution to the fighting sparked by a rebel commander’s offensive launched five months ago to take control of the capital, Tripoli.

A resolution adopted unanimously by the council extends the mandate of the U.N. political mission in Libya until Sept. 15, 2020, and calls on countries with influence on the parties to use it to bring about a cease-fire and restart a U.N.-facilitated political process.

A civil war in Libya in 2011 toppled longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi, who was later killed. In the chaos that followed, the country was divided, with a weak U.N.-supported administration in Tripoli overseeing the country’s west and a rival government in the east aligned with the self-styled Libyan National Army led by Gen. Khalifa Hifter.

Hifter launched a surprise military offensive on April 4 aimed at capturing Tripoli despite commitments to attend a national conference weeks later aimed at forming a united government and moving toward elections in the oil-rich North African country.

His force is the largest and best organized of the country’s many militias and enjoys the support of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russia. But it has faced stiff resistance from fighters aligned with the U.N.-recognized government, which is aided by Turkey and Qatar.

The Security Council resolution “expresses grave concern over ongoing hostilities in and around Tripoli, and the targeting of civilian infrastructure.” It also expresses concern “over the exploitation of the conflict by terrorist and violent extremist groups” as well as the deteriorating humanitarian situation.

Ghassan Salame, the U.N. envoy for Libya, told the council last week that since April 4, more than 100 civilians have been killed, over 300 injured, and 120,000 displaced. “There are no confirmed figures for the total number of fighters who have died so far, but anecdotally the figure appears to be in the low thousands,” he said.

The resolution underscores “the importance of the United Nations’ central role in facilitating a Libyan-led and Libyan-owned inclusive political process.” It also urges all parties to work together in the spirit of compromise, to exercise restraint, protect civilians and “engage seriously in national reconciliation.”

The council authorized the U.N. political mission “to exercise mediation and good offices” to support an inclusive political dialogue, a possible cease-fire, and a transition including the drafting of a new constitution and organization of elections.

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