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Italian Ambassador Condemns Tripoli Clashes, Haftar Forces Keep Close Watch

Italian Ambassador Condemns Tripoli Clashes, Haftar Forces Keep Close Watch

Wednesday, 17 January, 2018 - 10:00
A Mitiga International Airport employee near an African plane that was hit by bullets during the armed confrontations (AFP)

Libya’s health ministry, run by the internationally-recognized government of national accord in Tripoli, confirmed that 20 were killed and around 69 injured in recent clashes.

Italian ambassador to Tripoli Giuseppe Perrone said in a tweet that he felt hurt with violence prevailing, especially after he had believed that the Mitiga International Airport reflected the hopes and spirit of openness of Libyans looking for a fear-free life.

Most clashes have been taking place at the Tripoli airport.

The Italian ambassador also cautioned against the clashes undermining the Libyan people’s desire for peace.

Leading news service in Italy, ANSA, cited Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti as saying that her country will strengthen its mission to Libya slightly.

She also announced submitting a proposal to parliament on sending a military mission consisting of 400 troops in 2018.

Cooperation with Libya is moving positively, Pinotti said.

On the other hand, the United Nations Mission in Libya made a brief statement reminding all parties in Tripoli of ​​their moral and legal obligations to protect civilians and civilian institutions.

The statement recited that international humanitarian law prohibits direct or indirect attacks on civilians.

For its part, Tripoli’s Special Forces said 8 of its members were killed in airport clashes.

The GNA-affiliated news agency quoted a field officer as saying that the airport’s premise was fully secured after the outlawed armed group was driven out successfully.

The militia attempted to target the airport and its facilities.

An Airbus A319 passenger plane along with four other aircrafts sustained damage, mostly caused by shooting and shelling. The attack was reported as the first of its kind.

The attack on the airport and the annexed prison, which had hundreds of terrorists locked up over the past years, has been witnessed by the militants and the airport is witnessing frequent clashes and armed attacks.

Benghazi-based military strongman Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, who had previously threatened to free Tripoli from the hegemony of the armed militias, made no official comment on the situation.

However, officials with knowledge of the matter told Asharq Al-Awsat that Haftar’s forces were closely watching field developments in Tripoli.

GNA defense minister Al-Mahdi Al-Barghathi sought to exploit clashes to improve strained relations with Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

Sarraj suspended Bargathi following the massacre of 140 Libyan National Army troops in Brak Al-Shatti in May. Most of the forces responsible for the slaughter were operating under Barghathi’s control, although a statement by his ministry insisted he gave no orders to carry out the attack.

"We will not hesitate to take firm and decisive decisions against these illegal formations and hold participants in this barbaric attack accountable," Barghathi said in a Tuesday statement.

The African Union and the United Nations Mission in Libya agreed that the two organizations should work together to provide an environment which can foster a consensus among the Libyans, ultimately unifying Libyan institutions.

Among the main aims of restoring the war-torn country is to form a comprehensive national government and hold free and fair nationwide elections.

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