Libya crisis: PM Fayez al-Serraj condemns ‘silence’ of allies

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Fayez al-Sarraj and Khalifa HaftarImage source, AFP
Image caption,
Libya's prime minister (L) has vowed to defend Tripoli from Khalifa Haftar's forces

The UN-backed PM of Libya has condemned the "silence" of his international allies as opposing forces advance on the capital Tripoli.

Fayez al-Serraj is facing down an insurgency led by eastern commander Gen Khalifa Haftar.

More than 205 people have been killed since fighting began on 4 April, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.

As violence continues, Mr Serraj told the BBC his people were starting to feel abandoned by the world.

He said failure to support his internationally recognised government could "lead to other consequences", citing the risk of the Islamic State group capitalising on the instability.

"The public is frustrated by the silence of the international community," he told the BBC's Orla Guerin.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Forces loyal to Libya's Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli

He bemoaned what he sees as the inaction of the UN Security Council, which is yet to reach a consensus on how to deal with the escalating crisis.

"The Russians won't accept mentioning Haftar's name even though everyone knows he is the one behind this," he said.

Libya has been torn by violence and political instability since long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi was deposed and killed in 2011.

The latest crisis started three weeks ago, when Gen Haftar's eastern forces descended on the capital in what Mr Serraj has described as an attempted coup.

Gen Haftar's troops are advancing from various directions on the outskirts of the city and say they have seized Tripoli's international airport.

'History may repeat itself'

Mr Serraj suggested "division within the international community" could lead to a repeat of 2011, when he says Libya was abandoned.

On Thursday, his administration accused France of supporting Gen Haftar, saying it would sever any "bilateral security agreements" with Paris as a result.

But France has denied allegations of "relentless backing" for the general, whose Libyan National Army (LNA) say they are aiming to restore security in the country.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Gen Haftar has ordered his forces to advance on Tripoli

Mr Serraj says Gen Haftar must be held to account for the "savagery and barbarism" of his forces and has issued a warrant for his arrest.

He warned that the Islamic State group - which was driven from its Libyan stronghold in 2016 - could try to exploit the chaos caused by Gen Haftar's forces.

"Definitely there is fear that IS could come back, and take advantage of this void," he said.