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Libya: ‘War of Airports’ Flares Despite UNSMIL’s Condemnation

Libya: ‘War of Airports’ Flares Despite UNSMIL’s Condemnation

Saturday, 17 August, 2019 - 06:15
The empty Mitiga International Airport in Libya's capital, Tripoli, is pictured on April 8, 2019. (AFP Archive)
Cairo - Khaled Mahmoud

A ‘War of Airports’ flared in Libya Friday between the Libyan National Army (LNA) –commanded by Khalifa Haftar – and militias of the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) – chaired by Fayez al-Sarraj.

For the second day in a row, the LNA targeted Turkish sites at Zuwarah International Airport, meanwhile, operations were resumed as well at Mitiga International Airport after hours of suspension due to a new missile targeting.

The GNA decried the attack of LNA against civil airports, adding that the silence of the international community is unjustifiable. It held the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) responsible for ensuring the safety of civilians against any direct or indirect aggression.

For its part, the UNSMIL deplored the ever-increasing and systemic attacks on airports in western Libya, including Zuwara and Mitiga. These attacks have endangered the lives of thousands of civilian travelers, including UN staff and humanitarian workers, it noted.

The UNSMIL stressed that these attacks must cease immediately, and reiterated that airports used by civilians are not military targets.

“The Mission reminds the parties to the conflict that all feasible precautions must be taken to protect the civilian population in accordance with international human rights and humanitarian laws and that failure to do may constitute a crime of war.”

Special Representative of UN Secretary-General Ghassan Salame condemned on Thursday the attacks on health facilities and the staff there, saying that “intentionally targeting health workers and health facilities and ambulances is a war crime, and when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attacks directed against any civilian population may constitute a crime against humanity.”

“We will not stand idly by and watch doctors and paramedics targeted daily while risking their lives to save others. We will spare no efforts to ensure that those responsible will face justice,” he added.

UNSMIL said Thursday that “deplorable attacks” affected at least 19 hospitals and 19 civilian and military ambulances, resulting in 11 deaths and more than 33 injuries, though the number may be higher.

Mitiga International Airport is the only functioning airport in the greater Tripoli area available for use by hundreds of thousands of civilians and the delivery of humanitarian assistance. It resumed operations Friday noon.

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