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Tripoli shelling by Haftar forces kills two at displaced people shelter

GNA says it destroyed anti-aircraft system supplied by Russia to Haftar, though LNA spokesman later rejects claim
Smoke rises over Tripoli after shelling by pro-Haftar forces earlier this month (AFP)

Shelling killed two people on Saturday at a displaced people's shelter in a part of the Libyan capital Tripoli that has been under bombardment by eastern forces seeking to capture the city.

The shelling caused a fire at the shelter in Fornaj district, located near a frontline and home to people forced from their homes after earlier bouts of fighting, Usama Ali, spokesman for Tripoli's emergency and ambulance service, told Reuters.

Ali said the emergency services were attempting to evacuate the shelter of the remaining displaced people and relocate them elsewhere in the city.

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The eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) - under military commander Khalifa Haftar - launched an offensive 13 months ago to capture Tripoli, seat of the Government of National Accord (GNA), which is recognised by the United Nations.

Haftar's forces are supported by Egypt and the UAE as well as by mercenaries from Russia; while the GNA is backed by Italy, Qatar and Turkey. In January, Ankara deployed troops, fighters and equipment to help defend the capital.

The UN said last month that four-fifths of civilian casualties in Libya's civil war during the first three months of 2020 were attributable to the LNA.

During that time, 17 attacks against health facilities in Tripoli and its suburbs have been recorded, the UN mission in Libya said, according to AFP.

On Thursday, at least 14 people were injured after several missiles targeted a hospital and residential areas of Tripoli, MEE reported, citing local media.

The GNA has this year forced the LNA onto its back foot with new help from Turkey, pushing it out of a string of towns west of Tripoli and putting it under pressure in its northwestern strongholds of Tarhouna and the al-Watiya airbase.

Turkish support for the GNA has been most effective through deployment of anti-aircraft defences and with drones that have hammered LNA efforts to resupply the northwest battlefronts from the east.

On Saturday, the LNA said it had destroyed a Turkish drone at al-Watiya. The GNA said it had destroyed a Russian-supplied anti-aircraft system at the same location, though an LNA spokesman later rejected that claim.

The fighting in and around Tripoli has added to terrible conditions for residents, who this week faced long power and water cuts during a fierce spike in temperatures.