Libya fighting escalates as Khalifa Haftar's forces bomb Tripoli airport

Minnie Murray
April 10, 2019

The pro-Haftar forces, who have named themselves the Libyan National Army, are said to have carried out the attack on the last remaining airport.

She said: "The attack near Mitiga airport [on Monday] that left many civilians in Tripoli stranded brought into stark focus the imperative for all parties to respect global humanitarian law, and to take all possible measures to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, including schools, hospitals and prisons".

The LNA had made air strikes on the south of the city as it seeks to advance into the centre from the disused airport.

The same official said militias from the coastal towns of Misrata and Zawia - which are not under the GNA's direct control - deployed troops to the capital as part of the counter-offensive against the LNA.

Analysts say Haftar has swelled his ranks with Salafist fighters and tribesmen as well as Chadians and Sudanese from over the southern borders, claims dismissed by the LNA.

A US amphibious hovercraft departs with evacuees from Janzur, west of Tripoli, Libya, Sunday, April 7, 2019.

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.

In central Tripoli, while there were no signs yet of military and security vehicles or personnel on the streets, shops and cafes were closing earlier than usual in the evening and residents were apprehensive about the prospect of violence.

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.

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Libya, Maria Ribeiro, said Monday the fighting had displaced more than 2,800 people, blocked rescuers from reaching casualties and damaged electricity lines.

The United Nations continues to call for a temporary humanitarian truce to allow for the provision of emergency services and the voluntary passage of civilians, including those wounded, from areas of conflict.

United Nations envoy Ghassan Salame met the Prime Minister in his Tripoli office to discuss "this critical and hard juncture", the UN's Libya mission said.

The violence has cast doubt on the United Nations plan to hold a conference from 14 to 16 April to arrange for the elections, as a way out of the ongoing chaos since Gaddafi's ousting under Western support eight years ago.

Mr Serraj said he had offered concessions to Gen Haftar to avoid bloodshed, only to be "stabbed in the back".

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

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

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