Libya airport reopens after truce-violating rocket fire

12 Aug 2019 / 20:40 H.

TRIPOLI: Flights have resumed from the Libyan capital’s sole functioning airport as calm returned Monday to the outskirts of Tripoli after a temporary truce was violated the previous day.

“Reopening airspace at Mitiga international airport after maintenance and cleaning ... so that airlines can renew their flights,“ the facility’s management said late Sunday on Facebook.

The UN-recognised government and forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar had agreed a truce for the three-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha that began on Sunday.

Haftar launched an offensive to take Libya’s capital in early April, but encountered stiff resistance, resulting in months of stalemate in southern Tripoli’s outskirts.

Flights from Mitiga airport were suspended for several hours Sunday after rocket fire hit the airport, a few metres (yards) from the runway where planes were parked.

Located east of Tripoli, Mitiga is a former military airbase that has been used by civilian traffic since Tripoli international airport suffered severe damage during fighting in 2014.

Mitiga is in a zone under the control of forces loyal to the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and has often been targeted.

Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army and the GNA had Saturday agreed to a UN-sponsored humanitarian truce for Al-Adha, although the GNA listed conditions, including a cessation of troop movements.

The GNA blamed Haftar’s forces for the attack on the airport, in which no casualties or serious damage were reported, and for a separate alleged attack in the Soug al-Jomaa district of Tripoli.

Over the past four months, 1,093 people have been killed in the fighting and 5,752 wounded, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), while more than 120,000 people have been displaced.

Libya has been mired in chaos since a NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011. — AFP

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