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Egypt's Sissi meets Libyan strongman Haftar in Cairo

15 April 2019

The presidency released photos showing Haftar, dressed in a blue suit, sitting with Sisi and his head of intelligence Abbas Kamel. Haftar in turn has modelled his muscular leadership style on Egypt's Sisi, himself an army general turned president.

The oil-rich north African country has been in turmoil ever since with successive weak governments in place and several Islamist militias battling for territorial control.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi met Sunday with Libyan commander Halifa Haftar, whose forces are fighting for control of the capital Tripoli, state media reported.

Field Marshal Haftar, who leads the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), has pushed from his power base in the country's east toward the Libyan capital in the west, the seat of the UN-backed unity government led by Fayez al-Sarraj.

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Haftar frames his march on Tripoli as part of his fight against Islamic militants and to restore law and order in Libya.

Haftar's forces, which control swathes of the country's east, launched an offensive earlier this month to take the Libyan capital, defying worldwide calls to halt their battle against fighters loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord based in Tripoli.

In another, earlier tweet, it denounced "repeated attacks on health care workers, vehicles" during the fighting, which began on April 5.

With more than 560 people wounded since the fighting started on April 4, the World Health Organization said it was sending more medical supplies and staff to Tripoli.

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More than 13,500 people had been displaced by the clashes, including 4,000 in the past 24 hours, and more than 900 residents are living in shelters, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Saturday.

"The humanitarian community is concerned about rising numbers of civilian casualties, including medical personnel", OCHA Libya said. Both sides have carried out airstrikes on the town, and a spokesman for the Libya National Army said it has stepped up strikes on its rivals in the past two days.

Gen Haftar, was exiled in the United States for two decades and is a U.S. citizen.

On Sunday, the United Nations mission in Libya warned that global humanitarian law "prohibits the bombing of schools, hospitals, ambulances and civilian areas".

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Libya, which has been mired in chaos since the NATO-backed toppling of longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, has been split into rival eastern and western administrations since 2014.

Egypt's Sissi meets Libyan strongman Haftar in Cairo