"We have extended our hands towards peace but after the aggression that has taken place on the part of forces belonging to Haftar and his declaration of war against our cities and our capital. he will find nothing but strength and firmness", al-Sarraj said. He brought his troops closer to Tripoli, which is controlled by the UN-backed Presidential Council and Government of National Accord and supporting militias.
Haftar's troops on Thursday captured the town of Gharyan, some 50km south of Tripoli without a fight, putting them closer to the militias than ever before.
Meanwhile, Haftar has declared a no-fly-zone over the western half of Libya while government air power has been striking Haftar's forces, albeit those sorties seem to have done little to slow his forces' advance into Tripoli. Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French foreign minister, said: "There is a fundamental principle in Libya".
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Still, American forces and diplomatic staff have continued to work in Libya with a special focus on helping the UN-backed government maintain its rickety grip on portions of the country. "Our governments oppose any military action in Libya and will hold accountable any Libyan faction that precipitates further civil conflict".
The Zawiya militia is one of dozens that have proliferated since the 2011 overthrow of dictator Moamer Kadhafi and are variously aligned with Sarraj's government and a rival administration in the east backed by Haftar.
A well-informed United Nations diplomat said late on Friday that Haftar's forces were reported to be on the outskirts of Tripoli.
It is the first time the worldwide community has been so clear that Haftar is responsible for the aggression and follows a failed effort by the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, to persuade Haftar to hold United Nations mediation talks in Geneva with Libya's prime minister, Fayez al-Sarraj.
Tripoli residents have begun stocking up on food and fuel, AFP reported.
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"We must store everything we need for the family, just in case, especially those with young children", said Farida, a mother pushing a full shopping cart.
"If you look at the last 24 hours, they've been ugly as far as his performance", Libya expert Jalel Harchaoui told RFI, analysing Haftar's offensive.
Fighting is going on near the former global airport, which the Libyan National Army (LNA) force, led by Khalifa Haftar, controlled by Friday night.
Russia's top diplomat on Saturday called for Libyans to "decide their future themselves" through "inclusive" dialogue.
"Egypt has supported from the beginning a political agreement as a tool to prevent any military solution" in Libya, Shoukry said during a joint news conference with visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov broadcast on state TV.
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The statement added that military activity is "hindering prospects for the UN-led political process, putting civilians in danger, and prolonging the suffering of the Libyan people".