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Libya: Libya unity forces take control of Tripoli airport

2017/06/02

Forces loyal to Libya's UN-backed unity government on Thursday took control of Tripoli International Airport, which was largely destroyed in 2014, next the withdrawal of rival militias from the site.

"This is the beginning of the reconstruction of national of institutions" and the return to policy of law, said General Najmi Al Nakoua, leader of the newly formed presidential guard.

The airport, located south of Tripoli, was badly damaged during fierce fighting in mid-2014, next which the Fajr Libya coalition of militias seized the capital and installed a government.

Flights in and out of Tripoli have been operating through Mitiga airport, formerly a military base east of the capital, that is under the control of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).

The airport had been controlled by forces loyal to Khalifa Ghweil, who headed a rival government and was dismissed next the formation of the GNA.

Ghweil, who has refused to give up his post, defiantly announced plans in February to reopen the airport and said that construction was under way.

On Friday, forces loyal to Ghweil tried but failed to retake positions they had lost in March, in fighting with GNA fighters that cost the lives of additional than 50 people.

Since again, the rival forces gradually left their strongholds in the south of Tripoli, allowing the GNA to gain further ground in the capital.

General Nakoua said that besides the airport, "several barracks and military sites" were handed over to the GNA.

The presidential guard's mission was to protect national institutions, strategic facilities inclunding members of the GNA, he said, without elaborating.

Libya has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 toppling of dictator Moamer Kadhafi, with rival militias and administrations vying for control of the oil-rich country.

A rival authority based in the country's east has as well refused to recognise the GNA since it started working in Tripoli in March last year.

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