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Militias Fight at Tripoli Airport

Yael Rein

A militia attack on the Tripoli airport destroyed around 90 percent of parked planes on Monday evening. At least 15 people have been killed since the Tripoli militia clashes between Islamists Islamist Libya Revolutionaries Operations Room (LROR) and the liberal Zintan militia.

A fire burns behind an airplane at Tripoli International Airport. (Photo: Reuters)

On Sunday, a day before the rocket attack, the Tripoli International Airport was shut down because of fighting between liberal and Islamist militias. Militia members of the LROR attempted to seize control of the airport from the Zintan militia, a group that has controlled the airport since Muammar Gaddafi’s overthrow in 2011. On Monday evening, the airport was hit by a “large number of rockets, including Grad rockets.” Twelve planes were damaged in the attack and the control tower was hit. Misrata Airport also shut down as a precaution.

Since Muammar Gaddafi’s overthrow in 2011, Libya has slipped into chaos as rival armed groups fight for power. While the government issued a statement calling for the in-fighting to stop, the Libyan government is weak and the militias outnumber their security forces. The government has called for international forces to help provide stability and security to the country. Meanwhile, the fighting has prompted the United Nations to temporarily evacuate its entire staff. The UN released a statement on July 14th stating, “it would not be possible to continue its work in delivering advice…while at the same time ensuring the security and safety of its staff.” The UN added that it looked forward to continuing to work with Libya and hoped to return as soon as possible.