Airstrike forces closure of Libya’s only operational airport

Adjust Comment Print

Tripoli's only functioning airport has been attacked as eastern forces advancing on the Libyan capital disregard worldwide appeals for a truce in the latest of a cycle of warfare ongoing since Muammar Gaddafi's fall in 2011.

Dramatic video footage shows a jet firing two rockets at Mitiga airport - around 10km away from the city centre - amid violent clashes in the capital.

Witnesses said the LNA had lost control of the old airport and withdrawn from positions on the airport road.

The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said that it had relocated more than 150 refugees from the Ain Zara detention center in south Tripoli on Tuesday to a UNHCR facility in a safe zone.

The forces of the Libyan Government of National Accord have regained Tripoli International Airport after defeating the forces of the retired Libyan Major General Khalifa that launched an attack on the capital Tripoli.

"We assure you that the LNA will be embraced by the residents of Tripoli".


However, armed groups coming from the nearby city of Misurata are supporting the Tripoli government, led by Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj, to counter the Libyan National Army.

A Reuters correspondent in the city centre could hear gunfire in the distance southwards.

The UN has said that 2,800 people have fled from the fighting near Libya's capital, with the Ministry of Public Health already revealing that at least 25 people had been killed and 80 wounded.

Al-Serraj, 59, who comes from a wealthy business family, has run the Tripoli government since 2016 as part of UN-brokered deal boycotted by Haftar.

The death toll continues to rise in Libya, where attacks have killed more than 45 people in the last few days.

Also Monday, U.N. envoy Ghassan Salame said he met with Fayez Sarraj, head of the government in Tripoli, to discuss how the U.N. mission "can assist at this critical and hard juncture".


The EU's foreign policy chief on Monday added her voice to those urging the eastern strongman to stop his offensive, in the wake of calls for restraint by the UN Security Council and the United States.

Haftar casts himself as a foe of extremism but is viewed by opponents as a new dictator in the mould of Gaddafi, whose four-decade rule was marked by torture, disappearances and assassinations. The media office of Hifter's army said 22 of their troops had been killed since Thursday.

Libya has become the main conduit for African migrants and refugees trying to reach Europe, with many detained if their journey fails and they are sent back.

Eight years later, Libya is still living with the instability and violence that resulted from US -backed regime change made possible by Western intervention.

France, which has close links to Mr Haftar, said it had no prior warning of his push for Tripoli, a diplomatic source said.

France's stance has created tensions with Italy, which has sought a leading role to end the turmoil in its former colony.


Forces with the Tripoli government have announced an operation to defence the capital called "Volcano of Anger".

Comments