Clashes south of Tripoli spurs calls for armed groups to relinquish weapons

North Africa

Clashes erupt south of Tripoli, the capital of Libya, leading to calls for armed groups to disarm and comply with security reforms.

Clashes between rival militias near Libya’s capital, Tripoli, have left 10 people dead and 41 wounded, according to statistics from the Libyan Health Ministry. The Health Ministry said that there were women and children among the wounded. The fighting between armed groups in the region erupted on Wednesday, 16th January, despite a truce deal four months ago that had halted deadly battles in the city. These clashes led to the deaths of at least 117 people and wounded more than 400 between late August and late September.

The most recent fighting is taking place between a coalition of Tripoli militias, known as the Tripoli Protection Force (TPF), and the 7th Brigade, or Kaniyat, from Tarhouna, a town 65 kilometres south-east of Tripoli. It is believed that the TPF and other militias around the country’s capital were angry that the 7th Brigade were able to keep the positions they took during the month-long period of fighting last year. Furthermore, it appears that armed groups are vying to exert control and influence over Tripoli’s International Airport.

International institutions and organisations have expressed their concerns over the implications of this breach of the ceasefire. The European External Action Service (EEAS), the European Union’s diplomatic service, reiterated the EU’s commitment to hold accountable “all those who undermine the political process or threaten the stability of Libya.”

The United Nations (UN) Mission has also come out strongly against the fighting and said it would not stand idly while events take place and would take the “necessary measures” to stabilise the situation, without specifying what these measures are.

The bloodshed has spurred Libyan authorities to push for security reforms in a bid to bring these armed groups under control. While different warring parties have agreed to comply with the reforms on paper. However, on the ground the situation is more complex. It is clear that the reforms that were agreed upon have not yet been implemented.