Forces loyal to one of Libya's competing authorities said they had seized control of the main airport in Libya's capital Tripoli on Saturday, two days after their commander ordered his forces to seize the seat of Libya's UN-backed government.
Pro-GNA forces spokesman, Colonel Mohamed Gnounou said a "counteroffensive" had been launched, adding that Operation "Volcano of Anger" had begun "purging all Libyan cities of aggressor and illegitimate forces", referring to Haftar troops. "We have formed an operative staff including units of the armed forces and the interior ministry".
The temporary U.S. pullout, after evacuations by other countries and worldwide businesses, underscored the fluid and tenuous environment in the country three days after a renegade commander from eastern Libya launched an offensive to seize Tripoli.
G7 foreign ministers meeting in the French coastal city of Dinard on Saturday called on Haftar to halt his offensive on Tripoli.
It said at least 55 fighters and a civilian were wounded.
The Kremlin said on Friday it was not helping Libyan military forces loyal to eastern commander Khalifa Haftar push westward and that it supported a negotiated political settlement to Libya's problems that ruled out any new bloodshed.
Libya's unity government was created at UN-backed talks in 2015 but it has struggled to assert control, while a number of global initiatives since have failed to unite the country.
Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, whose forces are battling to seize the capital Tripoli, is widely seen as a hawk hunting for greater power in violence-wracked Libya. Clashes between the rebel and pro-government forces have been reported from several parts of Tripoli.
Haftar´s offensive came as United Nations chief Antonio Guterres visited Libya Thursday days ahead of a planned UN-backed conference aimed at uniting Libya´s rivals and paving the way for elections.
In the renewed fighting, forces backing the GNA have launched air strikes on the LNA around 50km south of Tripoli.
As clashes raged in the mainly farmland region of Wadi Raba and the disused worldwide airport south of the capital, a spokesman for pro-GNA forces said a "counteroffensive" had been launched to push back Haftar´s forces.
"I still hope it is possible to avoid a bloody confrontation in and around Tripoli", Guterres tweeted.
Libya has struggled since the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi which left dozens of militia to fill the void and ally with either the GNA or the rival administration in the east backed by Haftar.
Despite the Tripoli flare-up, United Nations envoy Ghassan Salame insisted the April 14-16 talks in the Libyan city of Ghadames would go ahead.
"Despite the crisp air of Dinard, we couldn't overcome some of our differences", said Le Drian.
The UN Security Council has called on Haftar´s forces to halt their advance, warning it was putting Libya´s shaky stability at further risk.