Rogue general Khalifa Haftar seizes his chance to besiege Tripoli

Guterres centre leaves the airport in Benghazi Libya on April 5

Guterres centre leaves the airport in Benghazi Libya on April 5

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 sides have been in an uneasy truce since shortly after Gaddafi's downfall but the country now risks falling into civil war.

The governments of France, Italy, the United Arab Emirates, UK and USA issued a joint statement saying they were "deeply concerned" by fighting near Gharyan, south of the capital.

Haftar's dramatic bid to take Tripoli came as a meeting of Group of Seven (G7) foreign ministers was being held in northern France with the club issuing a statement on Friday urging an immediate halt to "all military activity and movements toward Tripoli".

Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj delivered a TV address on Saturday, saying he would defend the capital.

On Friday Haftar's spokesman said the offensive would only end once Tripoli fell.

Fighting continued on Sunday around the disused global airport south of the capital that Gen Haftar earlier said his forces had seized.

On Saturday, a source with the Libyan Presidential Guard told Anadolu Agency that Haftar forces were still in control of Qasr bin Ghashir as GNA forces were mobilizing forces to relaunch a campaign to recapture areas under Haftar's control.

Despite worldwide demands to stop the advance, the LNA now says they have seized the disused global airport south of Tripoli and reportedly declared a no-fly zone over the west of the country, although the situation on the ground remains unclear.

US Africa Command, responsible for US military operations and liaison in Africa, said that due to the "increased unrest" it had relocated a contingent of US forces, but gave no further details on numbers.

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Libya has struggled since the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi which left dozens of militia to fill the void and ally with either the GNA or the rival administration in the east backed by Haftar. Cairo has been one of Haftar's strongest supporters.

It said it is monitoring the security situation amid reports of fresh fighting in Libya as rebel forces from the east of the country try to enter the capital.

After meeting Friday with Hifter in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, Guterres said in a tweet that he was leaving Libya "with a heavy heart and deeply concerned".

"I still hope, if possible, to avoid armed confrontation around Tripoli", he said.

"With Juan Guaido being stripped of his immunity. we don't want the situation to escalate", German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in Dinard on Saturday.

The lightening assault was ordered as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was in Libya for a visit aimed at cementing a political deal on holding elections.

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

The Libyan air force, which is nominally under government control, said it had targeted an area 50km (30 miles) south of the capital on Saturday morning with "intensive strikes".

Experts say Haftar had backing from Egypt, which shares a 1,115 kilometre border with Libya, as well Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

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