File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )
Libya descended into chaos during the 2011 overthrow of Moamer Kadhafi that has seen a bitter rivalry emerge between the Tripoli-based authorities and Haftar's supporters
The United States is "deeply concerned" by fighting near Libya's capital Tripoli and is seeking an "immediate halt" to an offensive by strongman Khalifa Haftar, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday.
"We have made clear that we oppose the military offensive by Khalifa Haftar's forces and urge the immediate halt to these military operations against the Libyan capital," he said in a statement.
Libya descended into chaos during the 2011 overthrow of Moamer Kadhafi that has seen a bitter rivalry emerge between the Tripoli-based authorities and Haftar's supporters in the east of the country.
Fighting raged south of Tripoli on Sunday, three days after Haftar launched the offensive to seize the capital, now controlled by a UN-backed unity government and an array of militias.
But Pompeo stressed that there is "no military solution to the Libya conflict," and urged all parties to "urgently de-escalate the situation."
"This unilateral military campaign against Tripoli is endangering civilians and undermining prospects for a better future for all Libyans," he said.
"The United States continues to press Libyan leaders, together with our international partners, to return to political negotiations mediated by UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General Ghassan Salame," he added.
"A political solution is the only way to unify the country and provide a plan for security, stability, and prosperity for all Libyans."
Meanwhile, Russia on Sunday blocked a UN Security Council statement that would have called on forces loyal to Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar to halt their advance on Tripoli, diplomats said.
Moscow insisted that the formal statement urge all Libyan forces to stop fighting, but the proposed change was opposed by the United States, council diplomats said.
After a closed-door meeting on Friday, the council called on Haftar's self-proclaimed Libyan National Army to "halt its military activity" in an agreed statement to the press.
Britain then proposed a more formal text for approval to the 15-member council that was opposed by Russia. All council statements are agreed by consensus.