In Libya, Tripoli International Airport has been taken over by the forces of the National Unity Government (GNA), its spokesman said on Wednesday. Until now, it was under the control of the forces of Khalifa Haftar, a strong man from the east of the country. Near the capital, it represents a strategic area in the conflict.
The Libyan government’s national unit forces announced on Wednesday, June 3, that they have regained control of Tripoli International Airport, which has been out of operation since 2014, after heavy fighting against forces loyal to Marshal Khalifa Haftar, a strong man from eastern Libya.
“Our forces have completely liberated Tripoli International Airport,” said spokesman Mohamad Gnounou, pro-GNA forces in a statement.
Several attacks in this area
This civilian airport, the largest in the country, was destroyed in 2014 by fighting between rival militias, about 20 kilometers south of the capital, a strategic area. It had been occupied by pro-Haftar forces since the first weeks of their offensive launched in April 2019 to seize Tripoli, seat of the GNA, recognized by the UN.
Pro-GNA forces “chase Haftar’s militias fleeing towards Gasr Ben Gachir”, further south, according to Mohamad Gnounou.
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The operation for the recovery of the international airport in Tripoli began on Wednesday morning with the support of drones aimed at competing forces’ positions and equipment, says the same source.
For two weeks, pro-government forces have carried out large-scale ground and air attacks in this sector. They had successfully surrounded the airport area before the final assault on Wednesday.
A recent resumption of discussions
Forces loyal to Marshal Haftar did not comment on this setback, the most significant since last month’s loss of Al-Watiya airbase, a large rear base at Camp Haftar, 140 kilometers south west of Tripoli.
The setback comes shortly after the UN in New York announced the resumption of talks between warriors and welcomed a “first positive step”.
Libya has been in chaos since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s government in 2011. Over the past year, the conflict has been exacerbated by increased foreign involvement, with the United Arab Emirates and Russia supporting Camp Haftar, and Turkey as by GNA.
It has left hundreds of people dead, including many civilians, and forced about 200,000 people to flee.