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Morocco hosts Libya peace talks

N-backed talks start in Rabat, hours after airplanes bomb airport in Tripoli amid continuing conflict.

United Nations-brokered peace talks aimed at resolving the political turmoil in Libya have started in Morocco, hours after the airport in the Libyan capital Tripoli was bombed.

Warplanes from Libya's UN-recognised parliament in Tobruk carried out the air strikes on the airport in Tripolii, which is currently governed by a rival administration.

The jets hit an open area near the runway at Maitiga airport on Thursday morning but caused no major damage and the airport was operating normally, a security source at the airport told the Reuters news agency.

Libya's legislators are split between the UN-recognised government in the eastern city of Tobruk and the General National Congress, a rival legally-installed government in the capital, Tripoli.

The political turmoil fuelled rival militias and allowed fighters claiming association with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group to gain control of the cities of Sirte and Darna.

The UN is brokering the Morocco talks among the various factions and the two governments, with two other sessions planned in Algeria and Brussels next week.

Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from Morocco's capital Rabat, said that the UN-recognised government has agreed to halt air strikes for three days to help the peace talks.

Our correspondent added that the Tripoli-based government had cautiously welcomed the announcement and said its legislators had been given a mandate to push strongly for a peace deal during the talks.

Urgent strategy needed

UN envoy Bernardino Leon told the UN Security Council on Wednesday that ending the conflict in Libya was "possible" but that the situation on the ground was "deteriorating rapidly".

The international community, he said, must "move quickly to present a clearly articulated strategy in support of the Libyan state and the efforts of a national unity government in combating the growing threat of terrorism".

The UN Security Council meeting came as Libya's state-run National Oil declared itself inoperable at 11 oil fields after a series of attacks by rebels purportedly linked to ISIL.

The force majeure - a legal step shielding the company from liability if it cannot fulfil contracts for reasons beyond its control - was announced on Wednesday shortly after gunmen attacked the Dahra oil field near Libya's central coast.

The attack on the oil field prompted a counterattack by government forces that included air strikes, said Mashallah al-Zewi, oil minister of the country's Tripoli-based government.


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