Air Raid Kills Three In Libya

Libyans inspect a damaged building following a reported airstrike in the capital Tripoli’s suburb of Tajoura, on December 29, 2019.
Mahmud TURKIA / AFP

 

Three civilians were killed Wednesday in an air raid on a town south of Libya’s capital Tripoli, a spokesman for the UN-recognised government said.

“Three were killed and three wounded in an air raid on Al-Sawani,” Amin al-Hachemi, spokesman for the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord, told AFP.

Al-Sawani lies around 25 kilometres (15 miles) south of the capital and under GNA control.

Tripoli’s southern suburbs have been hit by deadly fighting since eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive against the capital in early April.

READ ALSO: Dozens Of Monkeys Die In German Zoo New Year’s Eve Fire

Several shops were badly damaged in the air raid, Hachemi said.

On their Facebook page, forces loyal to the GNA published pictures of badly damaged buildings and vehicles and accused pro-Haftar forces of carrying out the raid.

GNA forces said in a statement that they had captured 25 pro-Haftar fighters on Wednesday.

Libya has been mired in conflict since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi, with rival administrations in the east and west vying for power.

According to UN figures published last month, clashes around Tripoli since April 4 have killed more than 280 civilians and 2,000 fighters, while over 140,000 people have been forced to flee their homes.

AFP

Two Killed In Air Strike On Shopping Area In Libya

Libya
Libyans check the site of an air strike on December 26, 2019, in the town of Zawiya, 45 kilometres (30 miles) west of Tripoli which killed at least two civilians and wounded 20 others, a local official said. It comes amid heightened tensions between the UN-recognised government of National Accord based in Tripoli and rival forces answering to strongman Khalifa Haftar who is based in the country’s east, and as Turkey said it could deploy troops in Libya to support the GNA. AFP

 

At least two civilians have been killed while 20 others were wounded in an air strike on a shopping area during rush hour near Libya’s capital.

According to the mayor of the town, Jamal Baher, the airstrike which occurred on Thursday on the town of Zawiya, 45 kilometres (30 miles) west of Tripoli, hit a pharmacy, a bakery and cars parked on the street.

“Two people were killed and 20 others were wounded,” he told AFP.

The airstrike took place as the area was busy with shoppers ahead of the weekend, which starts Friday in the North African country.

It comes amid fighting between the Tripoli-based, UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and rival forces answering to strongman Khalifa Haftar, who is based in the country’s east.

Tensions have further spiked in recent weeks as Turkey said it could deploy troops in Libya to support the GNA.

Earlier on Thursday, GNA Interior Minister, Fathi Bashaga, said his government may officially seek Turkish military support to counter an offensive on Tripoli launched by Haftar in April.

Haftar has “provided foreign forces with military bases in Libya,” Bashagha told journalists in the Tunisian capital Tunis.

“If this position continues, we have the right to defend Tripoli and we will officially ask the Turkish government for its military support,” he added.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is in Tunisia to discuss the conflict in Libya, said his country’s parliament will vote in January on a motion to send troops to Libya to support the GNA.

“God willing, we will pass it in parliament on January 8-9 and thus respond to an invitation” from the GNA, said Erdogan.

His comments come after the Turkish parliament on Saturday ratified a security and military cooperation deal with the GNA.

Libya was plunged into chaos with the toppling and killing of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi in a 2011 NATO-backed uprising.

It has since become divided between two main camps: the GNA and a rival administration in the country’s east, backed by Haftar.

The GNA on Thursday accused Haftar’s forces of carrying out the deadly airstrike on Zawiya.

There was no immediate comment from Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army.

At least 284 civilians have been killed and 363 wounded since Haftar launched his offensive to seize Tripoli, according to UN figures. Tens of thousands have been displaced from their homes.

Three Killed In Libya’s Air Raid

 

Three civilians were killed Saturday in an air raid south of the Libyan capital, a source in the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord said.

“Several air strikes have targeted different positions in the Al-Swani area (25 kilometres from Tripoli), killing three civilians who were in a vehicle en route from Al-Krimiya,” GNA spokesman Mustafa al-Mejii told AFP.

“One of the raids hit a house in the area,” he added, accusing eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar of being behind the strikes and others targeting residential areas of the capital and its suburbs.

READ ALSO: British Airways Pilots To Embark On Industrial Action

Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army launched an offensive on April 4 to conquer Tripoli.

After more than four months of clashes, the opposing sides remain embroiled in a stalemate on the capital’s southern outskirts.

Since April, the fighting has killed at least 1,093 people and wounded 5,752, while some 120,000 others have been displaced, according to the World Health Organization.

AFP

Air Strike Kills 42 In South Libya

This picture taken on August 5, 2019 shows smoke billowing above buildings during a reported air strike / AFP

 

At least 42 people were killed and dozens injured in an air strike on a town in southern Libya, a local official and the UN-recognised government said Monday.

The Government of National Accord accused forces of military strongman Khalifa Haftar of carrying out the strike Sunday on the town of Morzuk that a local official told AFP left “42 dead and more than 60 injured, 30 of them critically”

Libyan Govt Still Detain Migrants After Deadly Airstrike – UN Agency

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 17, 2017 illegal immigrants are seen at a detention centre in Zawiyah, 45 kilometres west of the Libyan capital Tripoli.
Taha JAWASHI / AFP

 

Hundreds of migrants were still held Thursday in a centre days after it was hit by an air strike that killed 44 people, amid outrage over the plight of those still trapped in Libya.

The announcement by a UN agency came as the internationally recognised government based in the capital Tripoli said it is considering closing migrant detention centres in the North African country.

The Government of National Accord “is currently reviewing the closure of shelters and the release of illegal migrants to ensure their safety and security”, GNA interior minister Fathi Bachagha said.

READ ALSO: African Free Trade Zone Expected To Begin In 2020

The GNA does not have the capacity to protect migrants from air raids, Bachagha said during a meeting with Maria do Valle Ribeiro, assistant to the UN special envoy to Libya, according to the ministry.

At least 44 migrants were killed and more than 130 wounded Tuesday night in the airstrike that targeted a hangar in a detention centre in the Tripoli suburb of Tajoura.

On Thursday, around 300 migrants of the centre’s original 600 detainees were still being held there, the International Organization for Migration said.

They were receiving humanitarian assistance from the IOM, Safa Msehli, communications director for the UN agency in Libya, told AFP.

Msehli was unable to confirm reports that dozens of migrants had fled on Tuesday night after the raid in the Tripoli suburb of Tajoura which also left 130 wounded.

The UN’s humanitarian office OCHA, quoting survivors, said guards at the centre fired on migrants trying to flee causing no casualties, but the GNA interior ministry denied this as “rumours and false information”.

The IOM said its teams had “located” and transferred to hospital “a group of injured migrants who left Tajoura after the attack in the surrounding neighbourhood”.

“Innocent lives were lost in the attack on Tuesday night, and immediate action is needed from all sides,” the IOM’s Libya chief of mission, Othman Belbeisi.

‘Intolerable’ Suffering

The GNA and its arch-foe strongman Khalifa Haftar traded blame for the deadly assault which has sparked an international outcry and calls for an independent probe.

But despite a storm of outrage, a divided UN Security Council failed to unanimously condemn the attack in an emergency meeting Wednesday after the United States did not endorse a proposed statement.

Migrants from Algeria, Morocco, Sudan, Somalia, and Mauritania, as well as other African nations, were among the victims, Amin al-Hachmi, a spokesperson for the GNA health ministry, told AFP.

The majority of migrants at the centre in Tajoura, a suburb east of the capital Tripoli, were from Eritrea and Sudan.

Two of the five hangars that made up the centre were hit by the air strike, while “hangar number 3”, which housed more than 120 migrants, took a direct hit.

According to the IOM, of the more than 600 migrants detained in Tajoura, 187 were registered with its “Humanitarian Voluntary Return” programme, which helps migrants go back to their home countries.

“The IOM continues to call for an end to the arbitrary detention and reminds all parties that civilians are not a target,” it said in a statement.

Some 3,300 migrants are still detained in and around the Libyan capital in centres “considered at-risk” in light of the fighting between the opposing forces of Hafter and the GNA, the IOM added.

Rights groups say migrants face horrifying abuses in Libya, which remains prey to a multitude of militias vying for control of the oil-rich country.

Their situation has worsened since Haftar — supported by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Saudi Arabia — launched on April 4 an offensive to conquer Tripoli, where the Turkey-backed GNA is based.

UN agencies and humanitarian organisations repeat regularly their opposition to the return of migrants arrested at sea to Libya, where they find themselves in “arbitrary detention” or at the mercy of militias.

The North African country that has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 uprising against dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

AFP

Nine Nigerians Killed By Air Strike In Libya Migrant Detention Camp

A fighter loyal to the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) forces checks a building near the Yarmouk military compound.Mahmud TURKIA / AFP

 

Nine Nigerians were killed in an air strike on a migrant detention centre in Libya that has sparked international outrage, the foreign ministry in Abuja said Thursday.

The United Nations has said the attack in Tripoli on Tuesday night could constitute a war crime, while Libya’s internationally recognised government and its arch-foe strongman Khalifa Haftar trade blame for the assault.

The foreign ministry said preliminary findings by a diplomatic mission that visited the hangar in the suburb of Tajoura “have confirmed that nine Nigerian men lost their lives”.

“The mission has identified and taken custody of three women, one man, a toddler and a 10-year-old boy,” the statement said.

READ ALSO: UPDATED: At Least Two Dead, Vehicles Destroyed As Pipeline Explodes In Ijegun

The UN says that 44 people were killed and more than 130 severely wounded in the attack.

The foreign ministry said it was waiting for “a list from the centre to ascertain whether there are other Nigerians affected by the blast”.

It called for “an independent investigation with a view to bringing the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice”.

Wracked by chaos since the 2011 uprising against dictator Moamer Kadhafi, Libya has become a major conduit for migrants seeking to reach Europe and remains prey to numerous militias vying for control of the country’s oil wealth.

Violence has flared since Haftar in April launched an offensive to seize the capital, where the rival Government of National Accord is based.

Rights groups say migrants face horrifying abuses in Libya, and their plight has worsened since the assault on the capital started.

AFP

Migrants’ Death: UN Security Council To Hold Urgent Libya Talks

UN Security Council meeting in New York on the sidelines/ AFP

 

The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss an air strike on a detention centre in Libya that killed scores of migrants, diplomats said.

The meeting — to be held behind closed doors from 3:00 pm (1900 GMT) — will include a briefing from representatives of the UN refugee agency and the UN political affairs department.

Council members will hear a briefing from representatives of the UN refugee agency and the UN political affairs department.

At least 44 people were killed when the strike hit the Tajoura detention center east of Tripoli late Tuesday and more than 130 were severely injured, the UN said.

Tajoura held at least 600 refugees and migrants, including women and children. UN agencies said they expected the death toll from the attack to rise.

Tensions have soared in Libya since forces loyal to commander Khalifa Haftar, who holds sway in the east of the country, launched an offensive in April to seize Tripoli, held by a UN-recognized government and various militias.

World powers have been divided on how to respond to Haftar’s military campaign, with the United States and Russia refusing to back UN calls for a ceasefire.

The Tripoli government has blamed Haftar for the attack on the detention center.

UN envoy Ghassan Salame has called for an independent investigation and warned that the attack may constitute a war crime.

AFP

Air Strike Disrupts Flights As Thousands Flee Libya Clashes

 

Fighting raged around Tripoli and an air strike closed its only functioning airport Monday, as Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar defied international calls to halt his advance on the capital.

Thousands were also reported by the United Nations to be fleeing the capital city in the face of Haftar’s surprise assault which has left dozens dead.

The EU’s foreign policy chief on Monday added her voice to those urging the eastern strongman to stop his offensive, in the wake of calls for restraint by the UN Security Council and the United States.

“I make a very strong appeal to Libyan leaders and in particular to Haftar to stop all military activities … and to return to the negotiation table”, Federica Mogherini said after talks with EU foreign ministers.

READ ALSO: Gaddafi’s Son Eligible To Face Crimes Against Humanity Trial, Says ICC

A security source at Mitiga airport, east of the capital, said no side had yet claimed responsibility for Monday’s air raid, which hit a runway without causing casualties.

But the UN’s envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salame, blamed Haftar’s forces.

“Salame condemns the aerial attack today by LNA aircraft”, his office said in a statement, referring to Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army.

Mohammed Gniwa, a spokesman for national carrier Libyan Airlines, said the civil aviation authority decided “to suspend aerial traffic until further notice”.

An airport source, who did want to be named, confirmed the suspension.

 ‘Immediate halt’ 

The oil-rich north African country has been rocked by violent power struggles between an array of armed groups since the NATO-backed overthrow of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

Haftar, a former Kadhafi military chief, has emerged as a major player.

His LNA backs an administration in the country’s east in opposition to the UN-backed Government of National Accord.

Having seized control of much of eastern Libya — and buoyed by a series of victories in the desert south — Haftar turned his sights on Tripoli, vowing to “cleanse” it of “terrorists and mercenaries”.

After a pause overnight, fighting resumed Monday morning around the capital’s destroyed main airport, some 30 kilometres (18 miles) south of Tripoli, and the rural area of Wadi Rabi further east.

World powers have expressed alarm at the violence, saying it threatens to further destabilise Libya and derail UN-led efforts to find a political solution to the country’s woes.

The US has appealed for an “immediate halt” to combat operations and the UN Security Council has called on Haftar’s forces to stop their advance.

On Sunday Russia blocked proposals for the council to adopt a formal statement, instead insisting that all Libyan forces be urged to stop fighting, diplomats said.

Moscow is a key supporter of Haftar, along with Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

But the Kremlin on Monday urged “all sides to reject actions that could provoke bloodshed in battle and the deaths of civilians”.

Fierce clashes Sunday near Tripoli saw Haftar’s fighters and other powerful western Libyan armed groups exchanging fire including air strikes.

Forces backing the Tripoli-based GNA on Sunday announced a counteroffensive dubbed “Volcano of Anger”.

Spokesman Colonel Mohamed Gnounou said it was aimed at “purging all Libyan cities of aggressor and illegitimate forces”, in reference to Haftar’s fighters.

Civil war fears 

Unity government health minister A’hmid Omar told Libya’s Al-Ahrar television station late Sunday that around 50 people had been wounded along with those killed.

His ministry on Monday put the death toll at 35.

Haftar’s forces have said 14 of their fighters have died.

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Libya, Maria Ribeiro, said Monday the fighting had displaced more than 2,800 people, blocked rescuers from reaching casualties and damaged electricity lines.

She again urged the warring parties to implement a temporary humanitarian ceasefire.

The previous day, fighting raged throughout a two-hour window set by the UN for a pause in hostilities for civilians and the wounded to flee.

Haftar’s offensive has threatened to plunge the country into a full-blown civil war and once again thwart diplomatic efforts to find a solution to Libya’s woes.

It was launched just days ahead of a planned UN conference aimed at uniting Libya’s rivals and paving the way for elections.

The UN’s Salame has insisted the international community is “determined” to go ahead with the April 14-16 conference.

The UN mission in Libya said on Twitter that Salame met Monday with unity government head Fayez al-Sarraj in Tripoli to discuss how to “assist at this critical and difficult juncture”.

AFP

10 Children, Three Others Killed In Afgan Air Strike, Says UN

 

At least 13 civilians were killed, mostly children, in an air strike by “international forces” in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz late last week, the United Nations said Monday.

The strike happened between late Friday and early Saturday in support of ground operations conducted by pro-government forces fighting against Taliban militants in the area.

“Initial fact-finding indicates that 10 of those killed were children, part of the same extended family whom were displaced by fighting elsewhere in the country,” the UN mission in Afghanistan said in a statement.

READ ALSO: France Probes Injury Of 73-Year-Old Yellow Vest Protester

The US is the only member of the international coalition in Afghanistan that provides air support in the conflict.

A NATO spokesperson told AFP the coalition was investigating the claims.

The deaths come as ordinary Afghans continues to bear the brunt of the war in Afghanistan, with more civilians killed in the Afghan war in who than during any other year on record, according to a UN report.

The uptick in violence in 2018 coincides with a significant increase in the number of deaths caused by the “deliberate targeting of civilians”, according to the report, mostly stemming from suicide attacks by insurgents allied with the Taliban or Islamic State (IS).

An increase in air strikes by US and Afghan forces also led to more civilian deaths in 2018, with more than 500 civilians killed by “aerial operations for the first time on record”.

Fighting continues to flare across Afghanistan even as the US and Taliban press forward in peace talks aimed at ending nearly 18 years of fighting.

The ongoing peace talks with the Taliban follow years of escalating violence in Afghanistan.

According to the UN, at least 32,000 civilians have been killed and another 60,000 wounded in the last decade.

AFP

Israeli Air Strike Targets Syria Military Position

A fighter jet                                                                                                                                  Credit: AFP

 

Israel on Sunday launched an air strike on a Syrian regime military target in the west of the country, Syrian state media reported.

“One of our military positions in Masyaf was the target of an Israeli air aggression,” Syria’s official news agency SANA said quoting a military source.

It was the fourth time this month that Syria has accused Israel of bombing a military position in the war-wracked country.

An Israeli military spokesman declined to comment on the report.

A war monitor, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, also reported the air strike and said it targeted a “workshop supervised by Iranians where surface-to-surface missiles are made”.

“Iranian forces and forces from Lebanon’s (Shiite) Hezbollah movement are deployed in that sector,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

A government scientific research center is located in Masyaf and was hit by an Israeli air strike in September 2017.

According to the United States, sarin gas was being developed at that center, a charge denied by the Syrian authorities.

Israel has carried out numerous raids inside Syria since 2017, targeting regime forces and their allies from Iran and Hezbollah.

On July 15 SANA reported that Israeli missiles had hit near a strategic air base in the north of the country but said there were no casualties.

According to the Observatory nine pro-regime fighters, including three foreigners, were killed in the mid-July raid.

AFP

Pentagon On Syria Strikes: ‘We Successfully Hit Every Target’

 

Pentagon On Syria Strikes: 'We Successfully Hit Every Target'
U.S. Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. speaks during a news briefing at the Pentagon April 14, 2018, in Arlington, Virginia. The Pentagon held a briefing on the latest development of the strike in Syria. PHOTO: ALEX WONG / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

The Pentagon said Saturday that a joint US-British-French operation against Syria’s regime had “successfully hit every target,” countering assertions from Russia that dozens of missiles were intercepted.

The three allies used ships, a submarine and warplanes to launch a barrage of 105 guided missiles towards three chemical weapons facilities in Syria, officials said, including a research centre on the outskirts of Damascus.

The strikes “will significantly impact the Syrian regime’s ability to develop, deploy and use chemical weapons in the future,” said Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie, director of the US military’s Joint Staff, though he noted a “residual” element remained.

“I’m not going to say that they are going to be unable to continue to conduct a chemical attack in the future,” he said.

“I suspect, however, they’ll think long and hard about it based on the activities of last night.”

The missiles hit their targets within a minute or two of each other, McKenzie said, striking around 4:00 am Syrian time (0100 GMT).

The overnight operation was the culmination of a week of frenetic planning at the Pentagon, with officials weighing the risks of various targets as President Donald Trump sent out mixed messages on what he wanted to do.

“All the options looked at ways to balance minimizing collateral damage against maximum effect. These three targets seemed to hit the sweet spot and do that,” McKenzie said.

He said there were no known civilian casualties, but noted Syria had fired about 40 unguided surface-to-air missiles, most of which didn’t launch until after the allied strike was over. These missiles may have come down in populated areas, he said.

“When you shoot iron into the air without guidance, it’s going to come down somewhere,” McKenzie said.

The Russian military said that 103 cruise missiles were fired including Tomahawk missiles, but that Syrian air defense systems managed to intercept 71.

McKenzie countered that “the Syrian response was remarkably ineffective in all domains.”

According to US officials, the operation comprised three US destroyers, a French frigate and a US submarine. The vessels were located in the Red Sea, the Gulf and the eastern Mediterranean.

The US Air Force fired air-launched cruise missiles from B-1 bombers, and French and British planes also shot cruise missiles toward the targets.

The operation was “precise, overwhelming and effective,” McKenzie said, adding it will set their chemical weapons program back “for years.”

Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White reiterated that the United States is only in Syria to fight the Islamic State group and does not want to get drawn into Syria’s civil war.

“We do not seek conflict in Syria, but we cannot allow such grievous violations of international law,” she said, referring to the suspected chemical attack.

“We successfully hit every target,” she said.

“The strikes were justified, legitimate and proportionate.”

AFP

Air Strike Near School In Syria’s Idlib Kills 16 Children

An air strike hit near a school in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib Wednesday, killing at least 16 children, a monitoring organisation said.

“Twenty civilians, including 16 children, were killed in an air strike in Kafr Batikh in Idlib province,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based monitor, said the strike hit near a checkpoint held by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a jihadist group that consists largely of ex-members of a former Al-Qaeda affiliate.

It was not clear whether the air strike was carried out by the Syrian regime or its Russian ally.

Abdel Rahman said the strike hit children coming out of a nearby school.

“The oldest among them is 11,” he said.

In Kafr Batikh, the children’s devastated families wrapped the tiny bodies of their children in thick wool blankets.

They adorned their makeshift shrouds with olive branches and other greenery from trees in the village orchard before lowering them into graves deep in the red earth.

A teacher said he was in the school with pupils when a Russian warplane launched strikes.

Abdulrahman al-Omar said the students were hurrying home when more bombing raids hit.

“Some elderly people brought them into a cave to take shelter,” Omar told AFP.

As rescue workers rushed to help the victims and clear away the bodies of the first strike, the warplane hit yet again, he said.

It was the second time in a week that schoolchildren were killed in bombing raids in Syria.

On Friday, an air strike on a school in a rebel-held town outside Damascus killed 15 children and two women who were taking shelter in its basement.

More than 350,000 people have been killed since Syria’s civil war started in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protest.

AFP