Libyan government forces attack Tripoli airport
TRIPOLI – War planes from Libya’s internationally recognized government attacked the last functioning airport in Tripoli, the capital controlled by a rival administration, on Monday, officials said, the latest in a string of tit-for-tat strikes.
Rival governments and parliaments are battling for control of the North African country and its oil resources four years after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi.
“Warplanes conducted air strikes this morning on Mitiga airport but there was no damage,” the airport’s spokesman Abdulsalam Buamoud said. “Flights were suspended for only an hour … but now the airport is working normally.”
Mohamed al-Hejazi, spokesman for forces loyal to internationally recognized Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni, said they had attacked the airport “because it’s outside state legitimacy”.
“Weapons and foreign fighters bound for western Libya pass through the airport,” he added.
Thinni and the elected parliament have been confined to a rump state in the east since an armed faction seized Tripoli in the west over the summer, reinstating the previous assembly and setting up a rival administration.
The United Nations has been trying to persuade both sides to form a national government and said on Saturday that progress had been made at talks in Morocco.
Delegates would return this week for more negotiations after consultations at home, UN officials added.
But both factions face internal divisions over the negotiations. The country is dominated by armed groups who helped oust Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and now fight over territory and resources, while Islamists have also taken advantage of the chaos to expand their operations.
Tripoli’s main airport was severely damaged during fighting between armed factions in July and August. – Reuters