Libyan forces respond to military offensive south of capital

Libyan Interior Ministry’s Tripoli security forces on Wednesday said it responded to a military attack in the south of the capital Tripoli.

“Because the groups that attack Tripoli did not withdraw out of the borders of the Tripoli military area, we declare that we responded to an attack by these groups to prevent loss of lives and property,’’ the Tripoli security forces said in a statement.

Local media reported that clashes had erupted in southern Tripoli in the morning.

On the other hand, the Ministry of Health announced a state of public emergency as a result of the clashes and deployed ambulances near the conflict areas.

A Libyan armed group, named the Seventh Brigade, on Tuesday warned the UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez Serraj against “military escalation” in the south of the capital Tripoli, calling on Serraj to “restrain armed militias and force them to implement the agreed security arrangements’’.

In August 2018, violent clashes broke out in southern Tripoli between forces allied with the government and the Seventh Brigade militia, killing 117 people and injuring more than 500 others, mostly civilians.

The clashes ended with the warring parties signing a UN-sponsored cease-fire agreement.

After the agreement, the government approved new security arrangements in Tripoli that focus on replacing armed groups with regular police and security forces.

Following the 2011 uprising that toppled former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, the country has been suffering escalating violence and chaos, as well as political division.