Rocket fire hits airport, breaking Eid truce in Libya

The GNA blamed Haftar’s forces for the attack against the airport, and for a separate alleged attack in the Soug al-Jomaa district of Tripoli.
Mitiga International Airport in Libya's capital Tripoli. - Rocket fire on August 11 hit the Libyan capital's sole functioning airport,
This file photo taken on April 08, 2019, shows the Mitiga International Airport in Libya’s capital Tripoli. – Rocket fire on August 11 hit the Libyan capital’s sole functioning airport, violating a temporary truce between the unity government and forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar, airport authorities said. (Photo by Mahmud TURKIA / AFP)

Rocket fire hit the Libyan capital’s only functioning airport Sunday, violating a temporary truce between the unity government and forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar, airport authorities said.

Air traffic was suspended “until further notice”, the statement added, alongside photos showing columns of smoke rising from the runway and parked planes. Haftar launched an offensive to take Libya’s capital in early April, but encountered stiff resistance, resulting in months of stalemate in southern Tripoli’s outskirts. 

His Libyan National Army (LNA) and the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord had on Saturday agreed to a humanitarian truce for Eid Al-Adha, although the GNA had listed conditions, including a cessation of troop movements. 

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The GNA blamed Haftar’s forces for the attack against the airport, and for a separate alleged attack in the Soug al-Jomaa district of Tripoli. “Haftar’s militias have violated the truce twice,” GNA spokesman Mustafa al-Mejii said.

“The first time targeted a home in Soug al-Jomaa, wounding three civilians, and the second hit Mitiga airport,” he added. Located east of Tripoli, Mitiga is a former military airbase that has been used by civilian traffic since Tripoli’s international airport suffered severe damage during fighting in 2014.

Mitiga is in a zone under the control of forces loyal to the GNA and has often been targeted. “We have noted the coordinates of the rocket fire from zones controlled by Haftar’s militias south of the capital” and passed them on to the UN mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Mejii said.

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Libyan TV channels also reported exchanges of fire around the road to the closed international airport on Sunday. The truce had come after UN envoy Ghassan Salame had already called several times for humanitarian ceasefires, without success.

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Over the past four months, 1,093 people have been killed in the fighting and 5,752 wounded, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), while more than 120,000 people have been displaced. Libya has been in conflict since an uprising that toppled and killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.


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