Libya’s Islamist militia strike from the sky

Limited damage was caused near the runway and there were no casualties, airport officials from Zintan said

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A Tripoli-based Islamist militia in Libya carried out their first airstrike late Tuesday on a western Libyan town allied with a rival force headed by renegade general Khalifa al-Haftar, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.

Haftar’s forces, based mainly in the eastern part of the country, have used the air force to pound Islamist positions in Tripoli and other parts of the country. The Islamists have not had similar capabilities, and their first airstrikes have raised fear of possible escalation to air warfare between the two.

The airport of Zintan, the target of the Islamist airstrike, issued a statement saying: “A warplane conducted an air strike on the airport of Zintan while passengers were about to depart. Two flights were canceled for security [reasons].”

Limited damage was caused near the runway and there were no casualties, according to a Reuters report.

Defense officials from the eastern-based government accused the Tripoli faction of carrying out the attack. There was no immediate response from the Tripoli authorities.

Libya is increasingly divided, with Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni’’s recognized government and his allies locked in a conflict with a rival faction that took over the capital and established its own self-declared government.

The United Nations is negotiating a deal between the factions to stop the North African country’s slide into wider civil war, four years after the uprising that toppled leader Muammar Qaddafi.

Four years after the NATO-backed war toppled Qaddafi, Western governments fear Libya is sliding deeper into war as the rival factions battle for control and the country’s oil wealth.

U.N. peace talks among key factions have made little concrete progress but negotiations are expected to continue this month in an attempt to form a united government and end hostilities.

[With Reuters]

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