Rival Libyan forces carry out tit-for-tat strikes

Forces from Libya’s internationally recognized government carried out air strikes on Maitiga airport

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Forces from Libya’s internationally recognized government carried out air strikes on Maitiga airport in Tripoli and on an airport in Misrata town on Tuesday to retaliate against rival forces controlling the capital, a security official said.

Saqir El-jaroshi, air force commander for the recognized government, said the strikes were in response to attacks on Zintan airport by forces allied to the Libya Dawn group, which took over Tripoli last year and set up its own government.

A source at Maitiga airport in the Tripoli said the strikes had hit an area near the runway, but did not cause any major damage.

Meanwhile a warplane belonging to the forces controlling the Libyan capital Tripoli bombed the oil ports of Ras Lanuf and Es Sidra on Tuesday, causing only minor damage, according to a security official allied with the internationally recognized government.

Oilfields and ports are increasingly a target in Libya’s conflict, which pits two rival governments and their armed forces against each other, nearly four years after the uprising that ousted Muammar Qaddafi.

“They targeted the civil airport in Ras Lanuf, and oil tanks in Es Sidra. The rockets fell near the tanks, resulting in only minor damage,” said Ali Hassi, who is a spokesman for the forces guarding Libya’s oil infrastructure.

Es Sidra and Ras Lanuf - responsible for half of Libya’s oil output when operating normally - have both been closed since December because of fighting between rival armed groups.

A spokesman for the Tripoli-allied forces did not immediately respond to a request to confirm the attack.

Islamist militants, who have profited from Libya’s chaos to increase their strength, on Monday shelled two oilfields, Bahi and Mabrouk, hitting a pipeline to Es Sidra, although details of the extent of the damage were not known.

The North African OPEC nation's production is currently around 400,000 barrels per day, less than half the 1.6 million bpd it produced before the NATO-backed war that ousted Qaddafi in 2011.

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