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Haftar’s Forces Committing War Crimes in Derna

(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)

Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya Ali Al-Za’tari condemned the recent airstrikes by General Khalifa Haftar’s forces in residential areas in Derna, which have led to a number of civilian casualties, including children, in the last two weeks.

“The continuing airstrikes in urban areas populated by civilians must stop,” said Za’tari, expressing his deep condolences to the families of the victims and wishes speedy recovery to those injured.

Za’tari stressed that all parties in Libya had to respect the provisions of international humanitarian law and warned that direct attacks on civilians are war crimes, “and those responsible should be prosecuted.”

In addition, Ahmed Maetig, the Vice Chairman of the Presidential Council, took to Facebook on Friday to condemn the repeated targeting of civilian populated areas in Derna.

“There can be no justification for the bombing of innocent civilians in this way,” he said. “We share with our people in Derna the pain caused by these irresponsible attacks.”

In May, Haftar launched Operation Volcano in Derna, an extension of Operation Dignity, to allegedly liberate the city of Islamist control.

Hafter placed Derna under seige to supposedly block the movements of Al-Qaeda, in which he has accused the Derna Shura Council as being loyal to, in and out of the city.

After airstrikes by Haftar’s self-proclaimed “Libyan National Army (LNA)” on Wednesday hit the seafront promenade in Derna, killing a child and wounded three others, Ahmed al-Masmari, the spokesman for the LNA, accused the residents in Derna of helping Al-Qaeda, saying that they needed to “take responsibility for their actions.”

In the last two weeks alone, six civilians have been killed by Haftar’s indiscriminate airstrikes in residential areas, including three children, however Haftar’s forces continue to claim that they are not targeting civilians, but rather terrorist dens.

While the Presidential Council and the UN have avoided calling out Haftar for his repeated crimes against civilians in Derna, it now appears as though his most recent attacks on civilians has gone too far.

On Twitter, UN envoy to Libya Martin Kobler condemned the airstrikes in a residential area by Hafter’s forces last week which killed a mother and her two children and wounded seven others.

In addition, Haftar’s repeated attacks in Derna, which has been cleared of ISIS since April, are happening during a time when all factions in Libya have been called on by Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and the international community to unite their forces in the fight against the extremist group in their former stronghold of Sirte.

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