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Libya’s government says forces will retake capital

October 21, 2014

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Libya’s internationally recognized government said on Tuesday that its forces are getting ready to retake the capital, after Islamist-allied militias from the western city of Misrata took over Tripoli in August.

Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni’s government said in a Tuesday statement that it gave orders to the government forces to “advance toward Tripoli to liberate it” and to free it from the grip of the militias. It urged youth in different neighborhoods “to join ranks with the forces” to liberate themselves and their city. It also urged its civilian supporters to abstain from revenge attacks, and to hand over any captured militiamen to the army forces.

The militias that took over Tripoli, operating under the umbrella banner of Libyan Dawn, took control of ministries and state institutions, revived an outgoing parliament and set up their own rival government. Meanwhile the elected Libyan parliament and al-Thinni’s beleaguered government have been forced to operate from the distant coastal city of Tobruk. Thousands of families have been displaced from the capital and most diplomats have fled, while the airport — the centerpiece of multiple battles — has been largely destroyed.

The government’s imminent operation in Tripoli, comes on the heels of raging battles south and west of Tripoli that have devastated some neighboring towns and villages. The village of Kikla, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) southwest of Tripoli, has been the center of more than two weeks of fighting. Almost all of Kikla’s 30,000 residents have fled.

Libya has been witnessing its worst spasm of violence since the downfall of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in the 2011 civil war.

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