Mourners gather for funeral prayers for fighters killed by warplanes of Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter's forces,  April 24, 2019 in Tripoli, Libya.
Mourners gather for funeral prayers for fighters killed by warplanes of Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter's forces, April 24, 2019 in Tripoli, Libya.

The Libyan government has asked the U.N. Security Council to appoint a team of experts to investigate alleged attacks on civilians in the capital of Tripoli.

In an April 18 letter to the council that was circulated Thursday, Libyan Ambassador Elmahdi Elmajerbi said he requested the council dispatch a "a fact-finding mission" to investigate forces loyal to Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar.  The government alleges Haftar's forces killed and displaced civilians, destroyed private property, recruited children and involved them in "wars and hostilities."

FILE PHOTO: Khalifa Haftar, the military commander
FILE - Khalifa Haftar, the military commander who dominates eastern Libya, arrives to attend an international conference on Libya at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, May 29, 2018.

Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump called Haftar, a retired general and self-declared field marshal, and said he supported an attack on Tripoli, according to a Bloomberg news report.

Haftar's forces launched an offensive on April 4 to seize the capital as part of a campaign to overthrow the U.N.-backed government.  Haftar's troops, the Libyan National Army, are fighting militias loosely allied with the government.

The government-allied forces launched an counter-offensive last weekend, prompting a warning from from the International Committee for the Red Cross that residential areas of Tripoli were becoming battlefields.

The U.N. World Health Organization estimates more than 270 people, including civilians, have been killed in the fighting.  More than 1,300 were wounded and more than 35,000 people have been forced to flee their homes.

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