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AKIPRESS.COM - Powerful militias battling for the Libyan capital's airport have agreed a ceasefire, Tripoli said Friday, after the government sought UN help to stop the country from becoming a “failed state,” Middle East Online reports.
Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdelaziz asked the UN Security Council to dispatch experts to train Libya's defense and police forces to ensure they can protect oil fields, airports and other vital sites.
The call came amid a surge of violence in the country with clashes between rival militias sparking fears of all-out civil war.
Tripoli's mayor and leaders of battling militia said overnight that a truce had been agreed and that control of the international airport would be handed over to neutral forces.
The airport has been closed since fighting erupted on Sunday, when Islamist gunmen from the city of Misrata launched an attack on the facility, which has for the past three years been held by liberal, anti-Islamist fighters from Zintan, southwest of the capital.
Mokhtar Lakhdar, a commander for the Zintan forces, said that a truce had been agreed under the authority of the city's government council.
Ahmed Hadeia, a spokesman for the rival Misrata fighters, said the ceasefire was “only around the airport” and did not include other sites controlled by the Zintan forces.
The clashes revived fears of the conflict spreading inside Tripoli itself, with official results still awaited from a June 25 election to the parliament previously dominated by Islamists.
Libya could become a “hub for attracting extremists,” feeding radicalism and the arms flow in the region and further afield in Syria, said Abdelaziz.
In a statement, the 15-member Security Council said it condemned the recent violence in Libya and said it made “it even more difficult for the Libyan authorities to govern effectively.”
The Council would ask UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to look at the Libyan request for aid and present options, said Eugene-Richard Gasana, the Rwandan chair of the UN body.
Last week, the United Nations evacuated its staff from Libya after the latest upsurge in fighting.