Libyan National Army to activate ‘no-fly zone’ over Mitiga airport

A file photo taken on October 29, 2019, shows a view of the Libyan capital Tripoli’s Mitiga International Airport. (AFP)

The Libyan National Army (LNA) said that any military or civilian use of Tripoli’s Mitiga International Airport is a breach of the ceasefire agreement, announcing the activation of a no-fly zone, including Mitiga airport, says spokesperson Major General Ahmed al-Mismari.

The spokesperson said in an interview with Al Arabiya that the activation of a no-fly zone will include Mitiga airport which is used for military and terrorist purposes.

He added that the LNA will prohibit any military and civil aviation from using Mitiga airport.

“Mitiga airbase and Mitiga airport are military zones that are strictly prohibited to be used for civil or military aviation.”

He warned that “any movement of a civilian or military plane there will be in breach of the ceasefire and therefore it will be directly destroyed.”

Earlier on Wednesday, the LNA said its forces downed a Turkish drone which took off from Mitiga airport, adding that the drone was trying to stage an airstrike on its forces in Tripoli.

These new developments come at a time when Mitiga airport - which is the only functioning airport in Libya’s capital Tripoli - closed on Wednesday after rockets were fired towards it, the airport said in a statement.

A plane coming from Tunis trying to land at Tripoli’s Mitiga airport had been diverted to Misrata, a city about 200km (125 miles) east of Tripoli, the airport said on its website.

Meanwhile, foreign ministers of states neighboring Libya are to meet on Thursday in Algiers as part of international efforts to reach a political settlement to the country’s conflict, Algeria’s foreign ministry announced.

The foreign ministers of Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Chad and Niger as well as Mali are expected to attend the meeting, organized at the initiative of Algiers, the ministry said in a statement.

It said the aim would be to advance “a political settlement to the crisis through an inclusive dialogue between all parties.”

Last Sunday, world leaders at a meeting in Berlin committed to ending all foreign meddling in Libya and to uphold a weapons embargo as part of a broader plan to end the conflict.

Since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising that killed longstanding dictator Muammar Qaddafi, Libya has been plunged into chaos. It is now divided between the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) headed by Fayez Al-Sarraj and rival authorities based in the country’s east.

Al-Sarraj is fighting a civil war against an alternative government based in the eastern city of Benghazi whose forces the Libyan National Army (LNA) are led by commander Khalifa Haftar.

Haftar launched an offensive to capture the Libyan capital of Tripoli in April vowing to end the rule of militias that include hardline groups linked to al-Qaeda and others. General Haftar has reportedly received support from international allies opposed to extremism and the Muslim Brotherhood.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 10:05 - GMT 07:05
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