Libyan commander orders troops to Tripoli as UN chief urges 'calm and restraint'

Libyan commander orders troops to Tripoli as UN chief urges 'calm and restraint'

The secretary general of the United Nations expressed concern Thursday about a possible major armed showdown over Libya's capital, urging the country's rival factions to instead turn to dialogue as a self-proclaimed army commander ordered his forces to march toward Tripoli, CBC.ca reported.

The remarks by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres came during his visit to Libya, which began on Wednesday. Guterres is the second UN chief to visit Libya since the 2011 uprising that toppled and later killed Libya's longtime ruler Moammar Gadhafi. Ban Ki-moon visited in October 2014.

Guterres, who is expected to hold a news conference in Tripoli later on Thursday, said on Twitter that he is "deeply concerned by the military movement taking place in Libya and the risk of confrontation."

Earlier, forces loyal to Marshal Khalifa Hifter — who commands the self-styled Libya National Army that's based in the country's east — took control overnight of the town of Gharyan, 50 kilometres from Tripoli, without major clashes.

Hifter described his forces' move to the capital as a "victorious march" to "shake the lands under the feet of the unjust bunch." He ordered forces not to open fire on any civilians saying, "whoever raises the white banner is safe."

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