Tripoli airport seized by rebelstext_fields
Tripoli, Benghazi: Forces from the Libyan Dawn coalition claimed on Saturday to have seized Tripoli’s main airport after more than a month of clashes with nationalist forces.
Images of Misrata fighters celebrating at the terminal building and standing on civilian planes were posted on the social media. Arab channels Jazeera and Al-Arabiya also said that Misrata forces were controlling the airport.
War planes had earlier struck Misrata positions in Tripoli in an attack claimed by renegade general Khalifa Haftar. The raids killed 10 people and wounded dozens, the Misrata faction said.
The fighting is the worst since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
In the Nato-backed campaign to oust Gaddafi, fighters from the western region of Zintan and Misrata, east of Tripoli, were comrades-in-arms. But they later fell out and this year, have turned parts of Tripoli into a battlefield.
In Saturday's fighting, residents heard explosions early in the morning near the airport, where the two groups have been fighting for control for more than a month. Local television channel al-Nabaa said that planes had attacked four Misrata positions. A Misrata spokesman said the planes had come from Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, two countries which have cracked down on Islamists.
Western countries and Egypt, worried about Libya becoming a failed state and safe haven for Islamist militants, have denied any involvement. The Libyan government has said it does not know who is responsible for the air attacks.
Libya has used the small Matiga airport in Tripoli for civilian traffic since the main airport was turned into a battlefield last month. The tower, runway and at least 20 aircraft have been damaged, officials have said.
The violence has prompted the United Nations and foreign embassies in Libya to evacuate their staff and citizens, and foreign airlines largely stopped flying to Libya.