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‘Libya militias seize Tripoli airport’

24 August 2014 0:56

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An alliance of Libyan militias claim they have taken full control of the international airport in the capital Tripoli days after heavy clashes with other rival militiamen in the area.

On Saturday, a group of militias, known as Fajir Libya, announced that they were in control of Tripoli International Airport, which has remained closed since July 13 amid skirmishes in the area.

Over the past weeks, the strategic area situated 30 kilometers south of Tripoli has witnessed clashes between Fajir Libya militiamen, partly comprised of men from Misrata, and Zintan forces loyal to former renegade General Khalifa Haftar.

If the claim is confirmed, it would be a major defeat for the Zintan forces that held the airport since the fall of former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Meanwhile, the Fajr Libya militas accused the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt of having a hand in two airstrikes targeting their positions in Tripoli over the past week.

Ahmed Hadia, a spokesman for the militia group, said 13 of its forces had been killed and 20 others wounded in the second air raid carried out by unknown warplanes on Friday night.

“We reserve the right to respond at the opportune moment,” said Hadia, adding that Fajir Libya militias believe the country’s provisional government and newly elected parliament “are accomplices” in these air raids.

Earlier this month, Libya’s newly elected parliament asked the UN for a military intervention to protect civilians amid relentless clashes. The legislative body also voted to dissolve rival militias, giving them an ultimatum to join the military and police by the end of 2014.

Nearly three years after a popular uprising, Libya is still grappling with rising insecurity despite efforts by the central government to impose law and order.

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