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'Major' attack on Tripoli by Haftar forces repelled, says GNA

Spokesman for internationally recognised government said offensive had been 'planned and mobilised for days'
Fighters loyal to the GNA open fire from their position in the al-Sawani area south of the Libyan capital Tripoli during clashes with forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar, on 13 June (AFP)

Libya's internationally recognised government said its forces fought off a "major" attack on the capital Tripoli by Khalifa Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), leaving dozens dead or wounded.

Six fighters loyal to the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) were killed on Monday, while 25 were killed or wounded from the LNA, said a GNA spokesperson.

"Our forces repelled a major attack by Haftar forces on several fronts in southern Tripoli, which they had planned and mobilised for days," Mustafa al-Mejii told AFP.

GNA forces carried out seven air strikes on positions held by Haftar's LNA in Tripoli suburbs, including Ain Zara, some 12km from downtown Tripoli, the spokesman said.

"Within a few hours our forces succeeded in forcing them to retreat, and seized new positions that had been under the control of Haftar's forces," he said.

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During the fighting, GNA forces also destroyed military hardware, including three tanks, seized others and captured 11 fighters, the spokesman added.

The LNA meanwhile said in a statement on its Facebook page that it had made progress in the combat zone of southern Tripoli, "inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy", without giving details.

On Sunday, an LNA spokesman said that they would be launching a "decisive and lightning" operation to capture Tripoli.

"The militias will either face death or imprisonment or flee," Fawzi al-Mansouri told Saudi newspaper Asharq al-Awsat.

"This is a purely national battle... the people are required to cooperate with the army and prevent the militants from escaping."

Over the weekend, the GNA expressed fear that Haftar's forces were prepping a new military escalation in their months-long push to take Tripoli, where the UN-recognised government is based.

Deadly fighting has rocked the capital's outskirts since the LNA launched an offensive in April to seize the city.

The United Nations mission in Libya said in a tweet on Saturday that it was working "with all local and foreign actors to avoid military escalation and to ensure protection of civilians".

Haftar's campaign to capture Tripoli from the GNA has left nearly 1,093 people dead, including 106 civilians, and more than 5,750 wounded, according to the UN's World Health Organisation.

The fighting has also forced more than 100,000 people to flee their homes.

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