At least 205 people have been killed in the battle for control of the Libyan capital Tripoli, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Thursday, as the UN-recognised government said it would approach the ICC against renegade general Khalifa Haftar.
The United Nations-affiliated body said in a post on Twitter it had deployed medical specialists to support frontline hospitals as the recent fighting has also left more than 900 wounded.
Toll for armed conflict in #Tripoli is 205 dead and 913 wounded. Medical specialists that WHO #Libyadeployed to support frontline hospitals are helping perform dozens of surgeries. pic.twitter.com/94zXHzsQq1
— World Health Organization in Libya (@WHOLIBYA) April 17, 2019
According to WHO, at least 18 civilians were among those killed in the fighting that broke out on April 4 when renegade General Haftar launched an offensive to take Tripoli, controlled by the UN recognized Government of National Accord (GNA).
Haftar moved much of his eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) forces north to try and take Tripoli.
On Thursday, armed groups attacked a major air base in southern Libya controlled by the renegade general. It’s the main base in southern Libya, which the LNA seized earlier this year.
Fighting was continuing at the Tamanhint base near Sabha, the main city in southern Libya, Sabha Mayor Hamid Rafaa al-Khiyali and an eastern military official said, without giving more details.
The identity of the attackers was not immediately clear.
The WHO said it was keeping medical and surgical teams deployed at field hospitals near the frontlines as the LNA remains in the capital’s southern outskirts battling armed groups loyal to the UN-recognised Tripoli government.
More than 25,000 people have been displaced by the clashes, including 4,500 over the last 24 hours, the International Organization for Migration said on Wednesday.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said it was the highest single-day increase in displacement.
During a tour of the Tripoli neighborhoods worst hit by the rocket fire on Tuesday night, GNA head Fayez al-Sarraj said the UN Security Council must hold Haftar to account for his forces’ “savagery and barbarism”.
“It’s the legal and humanitarian responsibility of the Security Council and the international community to hold this criminal responsible for his actions,” Sarraj said in footage of the tour released by his office.
He said his government would seek Haftar’s prosecution for war crimes by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
“We are going to hand all the documentation to the ICC tomorrow [Wednesday] for prosecution for war crimes and crimes against humanity,” he said.
Earlier on Tuesday, ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda warned she “would not hesitate” to broaden her investigation into Libya war crimes amid the fighting near Tripoli.
“I will not hesitate to expand my investigations and potential prosecutions to cover any new instances of crimes falling within the court’s jurisdiction,” Fatou Bensouda said in The Hague.
“No one should doubt my determination in this regard,” Bensouda said in a statement.
He called on “all parties and armed groups involved in the fighting to fully respect the rules of international humanitarian law” including commanders.