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Heavy fighting in Libyan capital

By Reuters - May 26,2019 - Last updated at May 26,2019

A fighter loyal to the Libyan internationally-recognised Government of National Accord flashes the V for victory sign as he carries a machine gun during clashes against forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar, on Saturday, in the airport road area, south of the Libyan capital Tripoli (AFP photo)

TRIPOLI — Heavy fighting raged in the Libyan capital on Saturday as eastern forces made a new push to advance inside the city controlled by the internationally recognised government.

The Libya National Army (LNA) force of Khalifa Haftar, who is allied to a parallel government in the east, started an offensive to take Tripoli almost two months ago but has not breached the city's southern defences.

The LNA made a new push on Saturday morning, trying to advance on a road from the former airport — located in a southern suburb — towards the centre but there was no sign of progress, residents said.

Fighting had slowed in recent weeks during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan when most people fast during the day until sunset.

The battle for Tripoli has killed at least 510 people, forced 75,000 out of their homes, trapped thousands of migrants in detention centres, and flattened some southern suburbs. It has also forced closures of schools, split families on different sides of the front line, and brought power cuts.

Two ambulance workers were killed and three wounded on Thursday when their ambulance cars were hit, the World Health Organisation said. It did not say who was resonsible.

The United Nations has been unable to negotiate a ceasefire. France has, like other European countries, called for a ceasefire but also supported Haftar as a way to fight militants in the country. 

On Wednesday, Haftar, meeting French President Emmanuel Macron, ruled out a ceasefire and said he wanted to rid the capital of militias that had "infested" the UN-backed government of Premier Fayez Al Serraj, a French presidential official said.

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