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Libya's UN-backed government receives military hardware in spite of arms embargo

Libya arms embargo has been regularly violated by different groups, according to United Nations
Libyan fighters loyal to GNA hold position near Salah al-Din military compound south of capital Tripoli earlier this month (AFP)

A coalition of forces allied with Libya's UN-backed government of national accord (GNA) said on Saturday it had received a shipment of military hardware in spite of an arms embargo on the country.

"The GNA is fostering its forces defending Tripoli with armoured vehicles, ammunition and quality weapons," the pro-GNA coalition said on one of its Facebook pages, without giving further details about the origin of the military equipment, Reuters reported.

The pro-government forces are battling fighters from commander Khalifa Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), which launched an offensive on 4 April to take the capital.

Pictures and videos posted by the coalition on its Facebook pages showed what appeared to be dozens of Turkish-made BMC Kirpi armoured vehicles in Tripoli port, AFP reported.

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The Turkish Embassy could not immediately be reached for comment, Reuters said.

Earlier this month, a GNA spokesman said his administration was talking to its ally Turkey to obtain "anything that is needed to stop the assault", including military and civilian help.

Libya has been under an arms embargo since the 2011 uprising that led to the removal and killing of leader Muammar Gaddafi. The embargo has been regularly violated by different groups, according to the United Nations.

Since 2014, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt have provided the LNA with military equipment including aircraft and helicopters, helping Haftar gain the upper hand in Libya's eight-year conflict, according to previous UN reports.

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Turkey and Qatar are at loggerheads with the UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia over several regional issues, including a blockade led by the Saudis on Qatar in June 2017. The Gulf nations accuse Qatar of backing terrorist groups, seeking closer ties with regional rival Iran and meddling in their internal affairs, charges that Doha has repeatedly denied.

Haftar, controlling large areas of Libya's east, launched an offensive in the south of the country in January before attacking the coastal capital last month.

The LNA made initial gains, but pro-GNA forces launched a counter-offensive, resulting in a stalemate on the southern outskirts of the city.

His forces have been held back from the city centre by pro-government forces, with fighting continuing on the outskirts of Tripoli, particularly in the southern suburbs.

The UN and European countries have called for a ceasefire, but officials say neither side is prepared for a truce, Bloomberg News reported. Haftar met Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Thursday and is expected to meet French President Emmanuel Macron next week.

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