Amnesty International accused both sides in the fight for Libya’s capital of “utter disregard” for the laws of war, in a report released Tuesday citing possible war crimes.
“Warring parties in the ongoing battle for Tripoli have killed and maimed scores of civilians by launching indiscriminate attacks and using a range of inaccurate explosive weapons in populated urban areas,” the rights watchdog said.
The forces of east Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive to take Tripoli in April, but met fierce resistance from forces loyal to the United Nations-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), based in the capital.
“Both sides have shown utter disregard for the fundamental principles of international humanitarian law (the laws of war), which forbid such attacks,” the report said.
Fighting has caused at least 1,093 deaths and 5,752 injuries, among them dozens of civilians. More than 128,000 people have fled their homes, the United Nations reported in July.
Amnesty said it investigated on both sides of the frontline, finding “a systematic disregard for international law, fuelled by the continued supply of weapons to both sides in violation of a UN arms embargo.”
Arms exports to Libya have been banned since the 2011 revolt to overthrow dictator Moamer Kadhafi.
“Scores of civilians have been killed and injured as both sides use everything from Kadhafi-era unguided rockets to modern drone-launched guided missiles in attacks that could amount to war crimes,” said Amnesty researcher Brian Castner.
Amnesty said it visited 33 attacked sites around Tripoli, including an airport, schools and field hospitals, finding evidence of possible war crimes by both sides.
The most lethal attack documented was a missile strike in July on a field hospital that killed five medics and rescuers as well as injured eight others.
Amnesty established that the missile was fired from a Chinese Wing Loong drone which the United Arab Emirates operates for pro-Haftar forces.
“The international community must uphold the UN arms embargo, which Turkey, the UAE, Jordan and other countries have flagrantly violated,” Castner said.