The Libyan National Army’s (LNA) operation against Tripoli entered its fifth day on Monday with Khalifa Haftar’s forces raiding the capital’s Mitiga airport.
The development took place only hours after forces loyal to Fayez al-Sarraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA) claimed to have seized control of the facility in southern Tripoli.
The civil aviation authority decided "to suspend aerial traffic until further notice" to Mitiga airport, said Mohammed Gniwa, a spokesman for national carrier Libyan Airlines, reported AFP.
An airport source, who did want to be named, confirmed the closure.
No on was injured in the air strike that targeted a runway.
UN special envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame condemned the attack on Tripoli’s only functioning airport, saying the UN was “deeply concerned for the welfare of the civilian population in the ongoing violence.”
LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari confirmed later on Monday that his forces were still controlling the airport, revealing that minor skirmishes had taken place in areas south, southeast and west of Tripoli, thereby refuting GNA claims that its forces had made advances on the LNA.
Meanwhile, parliament Speaker Aguila Saleh said that the LNA’s march on Tripoli is in line with the constitutional declaration and parliament decision to rid the capital of militias.
“We assure you that the LNA will be embraced by the residents of Tripoli. It will protect them, their properties and freedom,” he said after meeting with Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Abul Gheit in Cairo.
In Tripoli, Higher Council of State chief Khaled al-Mishri announced his rejection of the LNA’s operation, calling on the GNA to issue a warrant for Haftar’s arrest.
The UN mission in Libya later confirmed that it was still operating in Tripoli in spite of the unrest south of the capital. Unofficial reports had claimed that it had evacuated its staff to Tunisia in wake of the military escalation.
At least 32 people have been killed and around 50 wounded in fighting, said the GNA.
Mismari said that the LNA had lost only two members in the fighting.