World, Middle East

Libya: Haftar militias target Tripoli's Mitiga Airport

Attack is new violation of cease-fire and continuation of Haftar forces targeting civilians, says UN-recognized government

Walid Abdullah and Aydogan Kalabalik   | 27.02.2020
Libya: Haftar militias target Tripoli's Mitiga Airport File Photo


Militias loyal to Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar targeted Mitiga International Airport in the capital Tripoli on Thursday.

In a statement, the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) said Mitiga Airport – open to civilian use – was hit by Grad missiles.

The attack is a "new and repeated violation of the cease-fire and a continuation of the Haftar militias' criminal record of targeting civilians," the GNA said.

Following the attack, aviation was suspended at the airport, said the Facebook page of the GNA-led Burkan Al-Ghadab (Volcano of Rage) Operation.

A few hours later, service resumed, allowing scheduled flights to operate at the airport, the GNA’s airports authority said on Facebook. 

According to an Anadolu Agency correspondent at the scene, Haftars' militias have randomly shelled residential areas in the capital over the last two days.

The internationally recognized GNA has been under attack by Haftar’s forces since last April, with more than 1,000 lives lost in the violence.

Separately, the GNA's Health Ministry said in a Thursday statement that in the period from Jan. 9 to Feb. 20, roughly 21 civilians were killed, including women and children, and 31 were injured by Haftar militia rocket attacks on civilian settlements and other cities in the southern parts of the capital Tripoli.

In a statement Thursday, the UN mission in Libya also strongly condemned the continued violations of the armistice by Haftar forces, including the repeated bombing of Mitiga Airport.

Since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: Haftar in eastern Libya, supported mainly by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, and the GNA in Tripoli, which enjoys UN and international recognition. 

On Jan. 12, the parties to the conflict announced a ceasefire in response to a joint call by Turkey and Russia.

But talks for a permanent ceasefire hosted by Russia on Jan. 14 proved inconclusive after Haftar left Moscow without signing a deal.

The first round of political talks on the Libya peace process started Wednesday in Geneva.

The political talks follow the completion of a second round of the UN-sponsored military talks on Libya between the warring sides that ended in Geneva on Sunday.

The Libyan Joint Military Commission (JMC) talks were in a 5+5 format with five representatives of the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), and five from the forces loyal to warlord Khalifa Haftar.

The JMC is one of the three tracks, which UNSMIL is working on, in addition to the economic and political tracks, in compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 2510 (2020) and it calls upon the two parties to reach a lasting cease-fire agreement.
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