And last week, the Libyan government of national reconciliation recognized by the United Nations announced its control of Tarhuna, the main city in the southeast of the capital, Tripoli, after repelling the eastern forces led by the defected General Khalifa Haftar. The town was previously occupied by the Libyan National Army (LNA) loyal to Haftar.
It is not clear at this stage who was responsible for the mass graves.
It was a decisive pledge to Haftar’s forces as a supply route and a strategic base for their attacks on Tripoli. The town is the last major stronghold of Haftar’s forces in western Libya.
The United Nations Support Mission in Libya said that the Libyan Minister of Justice would form a committee to look into the graves. The statement added, “We call on its members to accelerate the work aimed at securing mass graves, identifying victims, identifying causes of death and returning bodies to the next of kin.”
Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs David Schenker responded, describing the reports on the mass graves in Libya as “truly disturbing.”
The Libyan conflict has grown into a proxy war between foreign powers and fighters over the past year. While the UN-recognized national consensus government is backed by Turkey, the Benghazi-based eastern government is backed by the UAE, Egypt and Russia.