Civilian casualties mount as stalemate continues on Tripoli frontlines
On 14 October, suspected Libyan National Army (LNA) aerial attacks struck a house in the al- Furnaj neighbourhood of Tripoli, killing three children and their mother, and injuring another child. The house was adjacent to a military intelligence camp, which remained undamaged by the attack. The same day, UNSMIL issued a statement expressing shock at the death of ‘three innocent young girls’. It strongly condemned “the reckless disregard for the lives of innocent people” and called for the immediate cessation of such indiscriminate attacks. Several other key international actors in Libya have also issued statements condemning the attack. In response, LNA spokesperson Ahmed al-Mismari claimed the LNA had not targeted any civilian locations in Tripoli. However, he admitted that air strikes, including against the military intelligence camp in al-Furnaj had “caused heavy losses in lives and equipment”.
The LNA has continued with its campaign to capture Aziziyya, with both the LNA and anti-LNA forces claiming to have made advances and repelled counter-assaults over the last week. If the LNA were able to take and hold the Aziziyya area, then anti-LNA forces in Ghariyan would be geographically isolated from support forces in southern Tripoli, weakening their ability to defend the location should the LNA push to re-capture the mountain town of Ghariyan. It is unlikely that the LNA will succeed in taking and maintaining control over Aziziyya in the immediate term, however it cannot be ruled out. If it managed this, it would be a significant strategic gain which could put an end to the military stalemate.
As the stalemate in southern Tripoli is seeing the LNA launch aerial attacks further into the densely populated areas of central Tripoli, civilian casualties are likely to increase as belligerents in the conflict take bigger risks and more reckless actions. Nevertheless, in the immediate term there may be a lull in operations on the frontlines as both sides regroup and reassess their strategies given the delay to the Berlin conference and apparent loss of momentum of international talks.