Battle for airport in Libya leaves 47 dead

Battle for airport in Libya leaves 47 dead

TRIPOLI - Agence France-Presse
Battle for airport in Libya leaves 47 dead

The remains of a burnt airplane at the Tripoli international airport in the Libyan capital is seen in this photo. Recent clashes have left 47 people dead.

Islamist-led militiamen have stepped up their assault on Libya’s main airport, controlled by rival fighters, which the Health Ministry said July 21 had left at least 47 dead in a week.

The fighting, which erupted on July 13 and shut Tripoli international airport, also injured 120 people, according to figures for the week until July 19.

The European Union condemned a fresh outbreak of violence on July 20, two days after the collapse of a truce with the militia controlling the airport, which left five civilians dead according to local media.

A coalition of militias led by Islamist fighters launched an assault on the airport on July 20, with clashes later spreading along the road to the capital.

By July 20 evening, fighting had subsided around the airport, security official Al-Jilani al-Dahesh told Agence France-Presse, but clashes continued in the western suburbs of the capital, witnesses said.

Dahesh said the militia which controls the airport, based in Zintan, southwest of the capital, and seen by Islamists as the armed wing of liberals within the government, responded with heavy fire.

Islamist militias have been joined by other armed groups, including the powerful Misrata Brigades, which played a key role in the 2011 revolt that toppled and killed Moammar Gadhafi.

The fighting has halted all flights and caused extensive damage to planes and airport infrastructure, with aviation officials saying Tripoli airport could be closed for months.