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UN chief worried by arms flows to Libya

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has told the Security Council he is deeply concerned by the battle for Tripoli and reports of fresh weapons supplies flowing into Libya, according to a report seen by AFP on Monday.

Guterres reported to the council on the European Union’s Operation Sophia to inspect vessels off Libya’s coast to shore up the arms embargo.

That military operation was authorized by a council resolution in 2016.

EU vessels conducted three vessel inspections in September, November and January, but no arms were found onboard those ships, the report said.

Libyan port and custom authorities, who are trained by the EU, seized armored vehicles in the port of Misrata in February and weapons in Khoms in January, according to the document.

“I am deeply concerned by the current military operation in Libya, which, reportedly, is being reinforced by arms transfers into the country, including by sea,” said Guterres in the report sent to the council on Friday.

Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar, whose forces hold the east of the country, launched the offensive on April 4 to seize Tripoli, seat of the UN-recognized government.

The assault derailed a UN plan to hold a national conference that would have paved the way to elections aimed at ending the chaos that has reigned since the 2011 overthrow of Moamer Ghaddafi.

Libya remains divided between the Tripoli-based authorities and Haftar’s supporters in the east.

UN experts earlier this month said in a separate report to the council that missiles fired at pro-Tripoli forces in April pointed to a likely drone attack that could involve a “third party,” possibly the United Arab Emirates.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are seen as key supporters of Haftar, praising his battlefield successes against the Islamic State group and other extremists in Libya.

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