Libya crisis: Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj vows to defend Tripoli

A military vehicle in Wadi al Rabih south of Tripoli Libya on Friday

A military vehicle in Wadi al Rabih south of Tripoli Libya on Friday

The United States military pulled a contingent of its troops from Libya on Sunday amid a surge in violence in the capital city of Tripoli, America's top commander for Africa said.

Video has now emerged showing U.S. Navy Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) hovercraft approaching and landing on the beach in the town of Janzour, which is located just a few miles to the west of Tripoli.

The forces of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli have launched a counteroffensive against the advancing troops of the rival Tobruk-based government, the army's spokesperson, Mohammed Gununu, declared on Sunday.

The offensive by the LNA intensifies a power struggle that has fractured the oil-producing country since the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.

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For the first time, forces backing the GNA launched air strikes earlier Saturday on Haftar's self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA) - which vowed to retaliate - around 50 kilometres south of Tripoli.

It is the first removal of United States personnel from Tripoli since the summer of 2014, when America provided air cover for the evacuation of its embassy when fighting erupted in the capital.

It said at least 55 fighters and a civilian were wounded. The CRPF contingent is deployed as the Peacekeeping force in Tripoli, Swaraj outlined.

Afterwards the German UN ambassador Christoph Heusgen said members had "called on LNA forces to halt all military movements".

In a televised address the head of the UN-backed government, Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, accused General Haftar of launching a coup.

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The sudden offensive against Tripoli by Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar has taken pro-government forces and the worldwide community by surprise.

Hifter's media office said in a post online that they took full control of the Tripoli worldwide airport and were working to secure the facility.

On Saturday, Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) reported 14 deaths among its fighters.

Meanwhile, Haftar has declared a no-fly-zone over the western half of Libya while government air power has been striking Haftar's forces, albeit those sorties seem to have done little to slow his forces' advance into Tripoli.

The UN Security Council held a close-door meeting late on Friday.

Eastern Libyan troops have advanced into the southern outskirts of the capital Tripoli in a risky thrust against the internationally recognized government.

Hifter's forces have sparked fears of a major showdown with the militias.

A field marshal who served under Kadhafi and now backs an administration in eastern Libya opposed to the GNA, Haftar was counting on a swift battle to capture Tripoli but some experts say he miscalculated.

It's still unclear how much this is a show of force to bolster Gen Haftar's position or a genuine effort to seize Tripoli.

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