Last week, the UN-recognized government of the Libyan National Accord (GNA) announced control of Tarhuna, a key city southeast of the capital Tripoli, after pushing east forces led by rebel General Khalifa Haftar. The city had previously been occupied by the Libyan National Army (LNA), which is loyal to Haftar.
It is not clear at this point who was responsible for the mass graves.
Tarhuna was critical of Haftar’s forces as a supply route and strategic base for their attacks in Tripoli. The city is the last major stronghold of Haftar forces in western Libya.
UNSMIL says Libya’s justice minister will set up a committee to look into the graves. “We urge its members to take immediate action to ensure that mass graves are secured, victims are identified, the cause of death is determined and the bodies are returned to relatives,” the statement added.
Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East David Senker also responded by describing reports of mass graves in Libya as “really disturbing”.
The conflict in Libya has escalated into a rift between foreign forces and fighters over the past year. While the UN-recognized GNA is backed by Turkey, the eastern Belgrade-based government is backed by the UAE, Egypt and Russia.