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.

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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.

Libya War Displaces Thousands In Tripoli

Displaced Libyans fill water bottles from a tank outside an unfinished building in the Libyan capital Tripoli on December 18, 2019. Mahmud TURKIA / AFP

 

 

Layla Mohammed barely had time to gather her children’s belongings before fleeing their southern Tripoli home when shelling targeted the Libyan capital’s outskirts earlier this year.

For months she moved her family between apartments as soaring rents in the crowded city exhausted her savings, eventually leaving them squatting in an unfinished building alongside dozens of other families.

More than 140,000 Libyans like Mohammed have fled their homes since April when forces loyal to eastern-based strongman Khalifa Haftar launched an assault on Tripoli, seat of the UN-recognised government.

In central Tripoli, the grey skeletons of a highrise construction site — abandoned since 2008 due to a property dispute — now host more than 170 families.

For some, the high rises in Tarik al-Sekka were “a gift from heaven”, since the alternative was living in the street.

But “we live like animals — without running water, electricity, or even sewerage,” said Mohammed, a mother of seven.

Her youngest son is sick with a chronic respiratory illness. “The dust will kill him,” Mohammed despaired.

“All we want is to live in dignity,” she said.

Neighbour Samira crowds her four children into a single room in a nearby building, preferring the greater warmth it affords over any sense of privacy.

She feels safe in the eight square metre room, which thanks to a benefactor has a door and a window. “Even if it’s not ideal, at least it’s free,” she said.

Initially, Samira was determined to stay in her southern Tripoli home, even as combat crept closer over the months.

But when a rocket fell near her house the terror became too much and she fled, she said.

– ‘Breaks my heart’ –

The buildings sheltering Samira and Mohammed are just metres from the seat of the Government of National Accord (GNA).

But authorities have done little to help.

Mayssoun al-Diab is in charge of displacement issues for the GNA’s crisis committee but admits “the government has offered them nothing, not even moral support”.

According to her, the government was unable to find shelter for all the displaced, leaving many at the mercy of avaricious lenders.

Her committee requisitioned schools, public buildings and hotels to house the displaced, but faced with an ever-growing influx as the battle dragged on, more and more families found themselves homeless.

When school resumed, the situation got worse. After living for months in one Tripoli school, Khairi al-Doukali said his family was “evicted alongside dozens of other families” to allow classes to restart.

Eventually, the Doukali family also ended up on the Tarik al-Sekka building site.

In the face of government inaction, civic-minded Tripoli residents have responded to heartfelt pleas online and stepped in to help.

Every day people give food, clothing and blankets, according to Salem el-Chatti, a member of a neighbourhood support group.

“We try to distribute donated items in a fair manner,” he said.

A man named Abdel-Atti arrives to donate a mattress and blankets.

“I pass by these buildings every day,” he said.

“It breaks my heart that my kids are fed and sleep warm inside while our brothers are experiencing this tragedy.”

AFP

Libya Airport Hit By Drone, Rocket Fire

 

 

An airport near the Libyan capital was hit by a new round of rocket fire and air strikes, the UN-recognised government said Saturday, two weeks after it was closed due to repeated attacks.

The Government of National Accord accused forces loyal to eastern-based strongman Khalifa Haftar of being behind Saturday’s attacks on Mitiga airport, but did not report any casualties.

An air strike by “Emirati drones” hit the airport early Saturday morning, followed by “Grad rockets launched by (pro-Haftar) militia”, the GNA said on Facebook.

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The former military airbase had been Tripoli’s sole functioning airport until a rocket attack on September 1 wounded four civilians including three pilgrims returning from Mecca in Saudi Arabia, the latest in a string of similar incidents.

Authorities responded by diverting flights to Misrata, 200 kilometres (120 miles) to the east, until further notice.

Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army has been battling since early April to seize the capital from pro-GNA forces.

The two sides have since become embroiled in a stalemate in the capital’s southern outskirts.

Haftar’s forces, which accuse the GNA of using Mitiga for military purposes, say they are targeting “Turkish drones” being launched from the airport to attack their troops in southern Tripoli.

The GNA’s interior ministry has identified at least 11 attacks on Mitiga since June 21, not including Saturday’s incident.

The Tripoli-based GNA called Saturday’s attack a “desperate attempt” at revenge for losses sustained the previous day.

Haftar’s forces announced overnight that two senior commanders of a pro-LNA armed group from the town of Tarhuna, southeast of Tripoli, had been killed in an air strike south of the capital.

Since April, the fighting around Tripoli 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.

Bodies Of 62 Migrants Retrieved Off Libya Coast – Red Crescent

Members of the Libyan Red Crescent inspect the washed up body of a migrant on the beach in the al-Khums, 130 kms east of the Libyan capital Tripoli, on July 26, 2019. AL KHUMS, LIBYA

 

Libya’s Red Crescent said Friday its rescue workers had recovered the bodies of 62 migrants a day after one of the deadliest shipwrecks this year in the Mediterranean.

“Our Red Crescent teams have pulled 62 migrants” from the water since Thursday evening, the head of the unit Abdelmoneim Abu Sbeih said.

Aid agencies on Thursday said more than 100 migrants were missing after an overloaded boat sank off the Libyan coast east of the capital near the port city of Khoms.

About 145 migrants were rescued by the Libyan coastguard, and fishermen said the waters were full of floating bodies.

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“The bodies are still floating onto the shore continuously, it’s not possible to give a total number,” Abu Sbeih added.

Local authorities were gathering and storing the bodies until burial places could be found, a municipal source in Khoms said.

The migrants had apparently been headed out to sea on three boats lashed together, according to the charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

Survivors had reported a total of almost 400 people on board, MSF mission chief Julien Raickman told AFP.

The head of the UN refugee agency Filippo Grandi called the wreck “the worst Mediterranean tragedy of this year”.

The capsize came only a few weeks after some 68 migrants died when an Italy-bound boat sank off Tunisia.

Libya, which has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 uprising that killed president Moamer Kadhafi, has long been a major transit route for migrants, especially from sub-Saharan Africa, desperate to reach Europe.

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.

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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

Libya’s Military Vows To Fight Until Tripoli ‘Militias’ Defeated

Fighters loyal to the Libyan internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) wait near the frontline during clashes against forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar,/ AFP

 

Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar, who is leading a military offensive against the UN-recognised government in Tripoli, said in an interview published Sunday he will continue fighting until militias in the city laid down their arms.

Haftar had justified the offensive last month by saying he was fighting against “private militias and extremist groups” who he said were gaining influence in the capital under Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

“Of course a political solution is the objective,” Haftar told the Journal de Dimanche newspaper in France. “But to return to politics, we need to finish with the militias.

“The problem in Tripoli is a security one.”

He offered an amnesty to fighters in Tripoli who laid down their arms, saying they would be allowed to “return home safe and sound.”

He also took aim at UN mediator Ghassan Salame, who has warned the country is “committing suicide” due to a conflict that 6-10 foreign states are involved in.

“Salame is making irresponsible statements,” Haftar said. “He wasn’t like that before, he has changed. From an impartial and honest mediator, he has become a biased one.”

Salame has warned that Haftar’s offensive is “just the start of a long and bloody war”.

More than 75,000 people have been driven from their homes in the latest fighting and 510 have been killed, according to the World Health Organization.

More than 2,400 have also been wounded, while 100,000 people are feared trapped by the clashes raging on the outskirts of Tripoli.

Oppositions Clash In Libya’s Tripoli

Fighters loyal to the Libyan internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) wait near the frontline during clashes against forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar,/ AFP

 

Violent clashes raged Tuesday south of the Libyan capital Tripoli, marking an uptick in fighting between forces loyal to commander Khalifa Haftar and those battling on the government’s side.

Heavy artillery fire could be heard from the city centre as the most intense fighting took place since May 6, when the holy Muslim month of Ramadan started.

More than six weeks since Haftar’s forces launched an assault on the capital, fighters backing the UN-recognised Government of National Accord made advances in the southern Salaheddin neighbourhood.

AFP journalists on the front lines estimated pro-GNA forces progressed by two or three kilometres (up to two miles) in the residential district.

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Moustafa al-Mejii, a GNA spokesman, said fighter planes supported ground forces in their advance, carrying out strikes against tanks and heavy weapons in a barracks.

Weeks of fighting have killed 510 people and wounded 2,467, according to the latest toll from the World Health Organization.

More than 75,000 people have fled their homes, according to the United Nations, while 100,000 are trapped by the conflict.

On Tuesday the UN’s envoy for Libya, Ghassan Salame, warned “the violence on the outskirts of Tripoli is just the start of a long and bloody war.”

Without immediate action to stop the flow of arms, he said, “Libya will descend into civil war which could potentially lead to a Hobbesian all-against-all state of chaos or partition of the country.”

Libya Asks UN To Investigate Tripoli Attacks

This grab obtained from a video published on the Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar’s self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA) War Information Division/

 

 

Libya has asked the UN Security Council to dispatch a fact-finding mission to investigate attacks on civilians in Tripoli, according to a letter released Thursday.

Libya’s UN-recognized government said forces loyal to commander Khalifa Haftar had killed and displaced civilians, destroyed property, recruited child soldiers and used heavy artillery and Grad missiles on populated areas.

The government requested that the council “delegate a fact-finding mission to investigate the violations committed by the attacking forces in the city of Tripoli,” said the letter dated April 18 from Libyan Ambassador Elmahdi Elmajerbi.

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The council has been unable to agree on a draft resolution put forward by Britain demanding a ceasefire in Tripoli after Haftar’s forces launched an offensive on April 4 to seize the capital.

Russia has opposed a text that singles out Haftar for criticism while the United States has asked for more time to consider the situation, according to UN diplomats.

After forces loyal to the Tripoli-based government of national unity launched a counter-attack last weekend, the International Committee for the Red Cross warned that residential areas of Tripoli were being turned into battlefields.

At least 278 people have been killed and more than 1,300 wounded in the clashes, according to the World Health Organization.

More than 35,000 people have been forced to flee their homes, according to the United Nations.

One Killed As Terrorists Attack Libya’s Foreign Ministry In Tripoli

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One person has been reported dead following gunfire and at least one explosion rocked Libya’s foreign ministry on Tuesday as attackers stormed the building in the capital Tripoli.

The assault was carried out by several “terrorist attackers”, according to the Libyan unity government’s official TV channel, which cited foreign and interior ministry sources.

Plumes of smoke were seen rising from the building, witnesses said.

There was no immediate casualty toll or claim of responsibility.

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Torn apart by power struggles and undermined by chronic insecurity, Libya has become a haven for jihadists since the ouster and killing of Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

The Islamic State group took advantage of the chaos to gain a foothold in the coastal city of Sirte in 2015.

Forces loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) regained control of the city in December 2016 after eight months of deadly fighting.

Since then, some jihadists have returned to the desert in an attempt to regroup and reorganise.

In September, IS claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on the headquarters of Libya’s National Oil Company in the heart of Tripoli which left two dead and 10 wounded.

Four months earlier, it claimed an attack on the electoral commission’s headquarters which left 14 dead.

US, Others Condemn Violence In Libyan Capital Tripoli

Libyan security forces patrol an area on August 23, 2018 at  Tripoli.
Mahmud TURKIA / AFP

 

The United States, France, Italy and Britain on Saturday condemned what they called an escalation of violence in and around the Libyan capital Tripoli, warning that armed groups which undermined Libyan stability would be made accountable.

“These attempts to weaken the legitimate Libyan authorities and hinder the ongoing political process are not acceptable,” Washington, Paris, Rome and London said in a joint statement published by the French foreign ministry.

“We are calling on the armed groups to immediately stop all military action and warn those who seek to undermine stability, in Tripoli or elsewhere in Libya, that they will be made accountable for it,” the statement said.

Libyan authorities closed Tripoli airport on Friday after some rockets were fired in its direction, a spokesman for the state airline Libyan Airlines said.

 

Flights Suspended From Libyan Capital Tripoli’s Only Working Airport

Tripoli Airport Reopens After Fighting Suspended Flights
File photo: Passengers disembark from their plane after landing at Mitiga airport a few days after militiamen attacked it in an attempt to free colleagues held at a jail there, on the outskirts of the Libyan capital Tripoli, on January 20, 2018. Mahmud TURKIA / AFP

 

The only operational airport in the unrest-hit Libyan capital Tripoli suspended all flights Friday, an airport source said, after fierce fighting near the city that has left at least 39 dead this week.

Hundreds of people have been injured in the clashes between rival militias, which broke out on Monday in suburbs south of Tripoli, according to a new toll by the health ministry released Friday.

Fighting had temporarily ceased on Thursday following a ceasefire deal, but reignited in the evening and continued into Friday, with intermittent bursts of heavy fire.

Witnesses and Libyan rescue services said rockets and shells had hit multiple areas around and within the capital, causing civilian casualties.

Several rockets landed near Tripoli’s Mitiga airport, forcing authorities to suspend flights for at least 48 hours for security reasons, according to the airport official.

The UN in Libya said it “strongly condemns the loss of civilian lives” in the city and called on all parties to prevent further casualties and cease hostilities in a statement on Twitter.

Flights were provisionally rerouted to the airport in Msrata, some 200 kilometres (125 miles) east of Tripoli, the airport source said.

The Libyan capital has been at the centre of a battle for influence between armed groups since the fall of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.