Libya’s Mitiga International Airport suspended flights Wednesday after forces loyal to renegade commander Khalifa Haftar declared the capital Tripoli and surrounding areas a "no-fly zone" and threatened to down any aircraft, including civilian commercial passenger flights.
The airport’s administration announced on its Facebook page that flights have been suspended until further notice and were being directed to Misrata Airport.
Ahmed Al-Mismari, the spokesman for Haftar’s forces, said on social media that the forces declared off-limit an area from Giryan, 120 kilometers (75 miles) south of the capital city, to Terhune city, 90 kilometers (56 miles) southeast and to Tripoli beach, including Mitiga Airport.
He said all planes in the declared area would be "legitimate" targets.
The militias bombed Mitiga Airport with six Grad missiles earlier Wednesday.
On Jan. 12, parties in Libya announced a ceasefire in response to a joint call by the leaders of Turkey and Russia. But talks for a permanent ceasefire ended without an agreement after Haftar left Moscow without signing the deal.
On Sunday, Haftar accepted terms in Berlin to designate members to a UN-proposed military commission with five members from each side to monitor the implementation of the ceasefire.
Since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: one in eastern Libya supported mainly by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, and the other in Tripoli, which enjoys the UN and international recognition.
Haftar’s military offensive against Libya’s internationally recognized government has claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people since April last year.
*Writing by Ali Murat Alhas
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