Forces under the command of Libya’s renegade General Khalifa Haftar are believed to have launched an air raid against the only functioning airport in Tripoli as heavy fighting rages for control of the capital.
Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud Abdelwahed said services at the Mitiga airport in eastern Tripoli were temporarily suspended after the attack yesterday.
“Passengers have been asked to evacuate the Mitiga airport after Haftar’s aircraft raided the runway,” he said, citing sources at the facility.
“In the area around the airport, civilians were terrified immediately after this airstrike.”
There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack.
Haftar last week ordered his self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), which is allied to a parallel administration in the east, to march on Tripoli, the seat of the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) which is protected by an array of militias.
Despite repeated international calls for a truce, clashes have intensified, with dozens of people killed on both sides.
Since Thursday, clashes have broken out in a number of areas on the outskirts of Tripoli, including at the disused international airport on the city’s southern edge.
The airport has been abandoned since 2014, after suffering extensive damage during heavy fighting between rival armed groups.
The army behind Libya’s UN-backed government has announced a counteroffensive to defend Tripoli, vowing to reclaim all areas seized by forces loyal to renegade General Khalifa Haftar, who have been marching on the outskirts of the capital.
Colonel Mohamed Gnounou told reporters in Tripoli on Sunday that the counteroffensive, dubbed Volcano of Anger, was aimed at “purging all Libyan cities of aggressor and illegitimate forces”.
The announcement came as Haftar’s forces said they conducted the first air raid on a Tripoli suburb as part of their aim to overthrow the internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and take control of Tripoli.
The alleged attack came after GNA forces launched air raids on Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) around 50km south of Tripoli on Saturday, reportedly killing one person.
Meanwhile, the UN mission in Libya (UNSMIL) made an “urgent appeal” for a two-hour truce in the southern suburbs to evacuate the wounded and civilians caught in the fighting.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES