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They are fighting on the southern side of the city, where witnesses said on Monday afternoon the LNA had lost control of a former airport and withdrawn down the road.

Libya is now split by two rival factions, with one supporting Haftar in the east, and another based in Tripoli in the west including a UN-backed government.

In a statement released today, Ribeiro said that the escalation of violence in and around Tripoli has caused the displacement of more than 2,800 persons fleeing from fighting, has blocked emergency services from reaching casualties and civilians, and damaged electricity lines.

The Libyan National Army forces, led by Haftar, have been seeking to reach the centre of the capital Tripoli after they have easily advanced through the desert and reached urban areas that form a more hard stage for them, amid increasing numbers of deaths and displacement and the West's fears that this will threaten its peace plan.

Libyan National Army (LNA) spokesman Ahmed Mismari said at a press conference on Tuesday that terrorists gathered in the city of Sirte meant to attack the so-called Oil Crescent, oil-rich areas on the coast in the eastern part of the country from the city of Tobruk to As Sidr.

The Libyan National Army's (LNA) operation against Tripoli entered its fifth day on Monday with Khalifa Haftar's forces raiding the capital's Mitiga airport.

The government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj, who has run Tripoli since 2016 as part of a United Nations -brokered deal that Haftar boycotted, is seeking to repel the LNA with the help of armed groups from Misrata.

At least 32 people have been killed and around 50 wounded in fighting, said the GNA.

Mr Serraj has run Tripoli since 2016 as part of a UN-brokered deal boycotted by Mr Haftar. His Tripoli government has reported 11 deaths in the last few days, without saying on which side.

The official Facebook page of Mitiga, run by the United Nations -backed government, said a fighter jet attacked the facility but gave no other details. "The United Nations is deeply concerned for the welfare of the civilian population in the ongoing violence and of the implications of the attack on the airport".

Haftar casts himself as a foe of extremism but is viewed by opponents as a new dictator in the mould of Gaddafi, whose four-decade rule was marked by torture, disappearances and assassinations.

Its elite force, Saiqa (Lightning), numbers some 3,500, while Haftar's sons also have well-equipped troops, LNA sources say.

France, which has close links to Mr Haftar, said it had no prior warning of his push for Tripoli, a diplomatic source said.

When President Emmanuel Macron named Le Drian his foreign minister, Paris increased support for Haftar, in close alignment with Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, which see him as a bulwark against Islamists and have supported him militarily, according to U.N. reports.