On September 24 the United States forces allegedly attacked southern Libyan town of Murzuq and killed 11 suspected militants. As it was the second US airstrike in the North African country in less than a week, the United Nations warned of a growing risk of armed escalation and rights abuses in the country. Director of the operation for US-Africa Command, Major General William Gayler reportedly claimed that the airstrike was conducted to eliminate ISIS terrorist and deny them the ability to conduct attacks in the Libyan people. The airstrike was a follow-up of the September 19 attack in which the US allegedly said to have killed eight suspected militants.
The September 24 attack took place in Libya's southern desert as some Islamic state militants retreated South as the group lost its strong control in the city of Sirte in 2016. The loyal forces of the eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar have been trying to capture the capital Tripoli since April and ever since then, the US has carried out an occasional strike in the desert area. The US allegedly claimed that they will not allow militants to use the fighting around Tripoli for cover. The UN Libya envoy Ghassan Salame allegedly claimed that the conflict has spread outside Tripoli with air and drone strikes. The port city of Misrata, Sirte, and Jufra in central Libya have been allegedly attacked on a regular basis. It apparently also triggered a conflict in Murzuq town where approximately 100 civilians were reported to have been killed.
Salame reportedly claimed that the conflict risks are being escalated to a full-blown civil war. It is fanned by widespread violations of the UN arms embargo by all parties and external actors. He further added that serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law are being committed with total impunity, including increased summary executions, enforced disappearances, torture, and ill-treatment as well as conflict-related sexual violence. The Haftar's Libyan National Army is battling forces with the Government of National Accord which was set up in 2016. The Haftar's are backed with foreign countries including UAE and Egypt whose diplomats and analysts reportedly claim that they are vying for influence in the oil-rich nation with regional rivals Turkey and Qatar.
(With inputs from Agencies)