By Hadi Fornaji.
Tunis, 16 June 2016:
Airstrikes in the residential areas in Derna by the Libyan National Army must stop, the UN deputy special envoy Ali Al-Za’tari has insisted.
Noting that UNSMIL had reports that LNA planes had killed at least five people in the past few days, two of them children, and wounded another eight people, six more children among them, he warned that indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas amounted to war crimes and those responsible could be prosecuted.
The warning of possible prosecutions of LNA individuals follows a similar one a week ago by special envoy Martin Kobler. The absolute insistence that the strikes end, however, is a new development .
“The continuing airstrikes in urban areas populated by civilians must stop,” Al-Za’tari said in an UNSMIL statement published today.
On Wednesday, a boy was reported killed and two other children wounded in a helicopter raid that hit a playground on Derna’s corniche. Just over a week ago, there were reports of LNA aircraft carrying out strikes over the town’s Bab Al-Shiha area in which a house was hit, killing a woman and her two sons.
One Monday, a man and his son driving from Um Rizam to Derna were killed when an aircraft shot at their vehicle.
In a fresh attempt to excuse his fighters, the head of the LNA’s Omar Mukhtar operations room covering Derna, Brigadier Kamal Al-Jabali, has again rejected reports of civilian areas being targetted. He claimed that Wednesday’s alleged playground attack was untrue. The child, he is reported saying, had been killed in a car accident as his father was speeding though an area under attack.
The local hospital, however, is reported stating that the child died and the two others wounded at the children’s playground.
Jabali, who would potentially top the list for war crimes charges if pressed in relation to Derna, had called on civilians to avoid areas where IS were still present.