UN says death toll from fighting over Libya's capital at 254

UN says death toll from fighting over Libya's capital at 254
Abdelhadi al-Houij, Haftar's Minister of Foreign Affairs, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press, Sunday, April 21, 2019, in Tunis, Tunisia. President Donald Trump has spoken by phone with Libya's Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, who is leading an offensive to take over the capital of Tripoli, the seat of the U.N.-supported government. (AP Photo/Hassene Dridi)

BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) — The U.N. health agency says at least 34 more people have died in fighting for control of Libya’s capital over the past two days, bringing the total to 254 dead so far, including civilians.

The World Health Organization also said late Sunday that 1,228 have been wounded since the self-styled Libyan National Army launched an offensive earlier this month to take Tripoli.

The fighting pits the force, led by Khalifa Hifter, against rival militias affiliated with a weak U.N.-supported government in the capital.

Abdelhadi Lahouij, the top diplomat for a rival, east-based government, told The Associated Press in Tunis that Hifter’s push slowed down because of the “crucial” issue of protection for Tripoli civilians.

President Donald Trump phoned Hifter last week, expressing U.S. support for Hifter’s perceived stance against terrorism.