By Libya Herald reporter.
Benghazi, 20 September 2015:
The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), headed by Bernardino Leon, has “strongly” condemned . . .[restrict]the military escalation in Benghazi launched yesterday by the head of the Libyan armed forces Khalifa Hafter.
“The timing of airstrikes clearly aims at undermining the on-going efforts to end the conflict,” it said in a statement issued from Skhirat, Morocco, where the UN-brokered Libya Dialogue negotiations are taking place.
Hafter yesterday unveiled his latest bid, Operation Doom (Hatif), to rid Benghazi of Islamic State (IS) fighters and other militants. It is supposed to be a coordinated ground and air strategy to deal with them once and all and targeted primarily in the city’s Leithi, Gwarsha and Sabri districts.
“A military solution is not a viable option in Libya”, UNSMIL said, noting that already too many civilians had been killed or wounded, more than 100,000 displaced and areas reduced to rubble in the battle for Benghazi. The latest air offensive would merely add to residents’ suffering, it added.
“Whether in Benghazi or elsewhere in the country, armed hostilities have shown time and again that they can only bring destruction and suffering for the Libyan people.”
The airstrikes, it claimed, were “a clear attempt to undermine and derail the on-going efforts to end the conflict at a time when the negotiations have entered a final and most critical stage.”
Demanding for an immediate ceasefire in the city, UNSMIL also called on key figures who support the Dialogue to use their influence to de-escalate the military situation.
There was no mention in the statement, however, of the actions of IS, Ansar Al-Sharia or the other militant groups who brought violence to Benghazi and tried to take it over by force.
There has been no condemnation either from UNSMIL of Thursday’s attack on the General National Congress which was specifically aimed at undermining the Dialogue process.
In a separate joint statement, ambassadors and diplomats from a number of countries present at Skhirat also condemned the rise in hostilities in Libya, including that they said were “air strikes against civilian population in Benghazi”. [/restrict]