Amnesty: Potential War Crimes Committed in Libya Fighting

Human rights group Amnesty International says it has evidence of potential war crimes committed by warring parties vying for control of Libya's capital, Tripoli.

In a report issued Tuesday, the London-based rights group said combatants have killed and maimed scores of civilians by launching indiscriminate attacks and using "a range of inaccurate explosive weapons" in populated urban areas.

"Scores of civilians have been killed and injured as both sides use everything from Gadhafi-era unguided rockets to modern drone-launched guided missiles in attacks that could amount to war crimes," said Brian Castner, Amnesty International's senior crisis adviser on arms and military operations.

Amnesty says its members conducted the first in-depth field investigation across the front line since fighting broke out across Tripoli April 4. The investigators visited 33 air and ground strike sites in and around Tripoli and interviewed witnesses, victims, militia members, local officials and medical workers. Their report found that 100 civilians were killed or wounded and 100,000 others were displaced.

The fighting began when the eastern-based commander, General Khalifa Haftar, ordered the Libyan National Army to move on Tripoli in a "victorious march" against the Government of National Accord (GNA) of Prime Minister Fayez al Sarraj, which controls territory in northwestern Libya.

The GNA is Libya's U.N.-backed and internationally recognized government. The LNA was formed after the country's 2011 civil war that overthrew former dictator Moammar Gadhafi and plunged the country into chaos. It includes former rebels as well as members of Libya's former national army.

Amnesty says no officials from either side of the conflict have responded to questions about the report's findings.

The United Nations has warned that escalating violence and a deepening humanitarian crisis in Libya are pushing the country closer to a return to the full-scale civil war.

Amnesty also says that even with a U.N. arms embargo in place since 2011, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey have been supporting the LNA and GNA respectively, through illicit arms transfers and direct military support. Amnesty's report also notes that Libya's warring sides have used drones to strike military and civilian targets. Field hospitals, ambulances and an airport have come under attack, according to the rights group.

Amnesty says the LNA uses Chinese drones operated by the United Arab Emirates and that the GNA drones are provided and operated by Turkey.

Amnesty says Jordan has also supported the LNA. Amnesty has called on the international community to uphold the arms embargo. It says Turkey, the UAE, Jordan and other countries have "flagrantly violated" the embargo.

Egypt has also been supporting the LNA, while Qatar has backed the GNA.

Source: Voice of America