At least 21 people were killed and 27 wounded in the early stages of fighting near Libya's capital city, Tripoli, this weekend as rebel forces under Gen. Khalifa Haftar advanced toward the city in an attempt to remove the incumbent U.N.-backed government and seize control of the country.
Libya's army announced a counteroffensive on Sunday to defend Tripoli from Haftar's forces. Colonel Mohamed Gnounou told reporters that the government forces will attempt to purge "all Libyan cities of aggressor and illegitimate forces." Al Jazeera reports that the announcement came after Haftar's forces said they launched their first air raid on a Tripoli suburb.
The political situation in Libya has remained tenuous with multiple factions competing for power since former leader Moammar Gadhafi was overthrown in 2011.
International powers have begun personnel evacuations in Libya as the security situation in the country worsens. U.S. Africa Command said it has temporarily relocated American troops and India evacuated all 15 of its Reserve Police Force peacekeepers. The United Nations is also expected to remove all non-essential staff. Meanwhile, residents of Tripoli are stocking up on food and fuel, but many will reportedly remain in their homes for the time being as they fear possible looting if they were to evacuate.