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Maitiqa Airport Closed as Tajoura Militias Launch Major Offensive

Fierce fighting erupted this morning in Libya’s capital Tripoli between militias aligned with the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) and Islamist militias from the city’s eastern suburb of Tajoura.

Tripoli’s only functioning airport, Maitiqa, was evacuated earlier today after it came under artillery bombardment by Tajoura forces.

Anti-GNA militias based in Tajoura led by Bashir al-Bograh have been plotting for months to attack the airport to free jihadists -including Islamic State members- from a jail located inside it. The jail is said to accommodate over 2500 inmates many of whom are Jihadists.

Today’s offensive against Maitiqa represents the last-ditch attempt by the affiliates of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) to win the turf war in the capital against followers of the hostile ‘Quietist Salafism’ sect.

LIFG’s main target is to defeat a Salafi militia known as the Special Deterrence Force which has emerged in the last two years as the main security player in the city by protecting the GNA headquarters and launching a crackdown on terrorist groups.  The SDF is being acknowledged by GNA’s international backers as Tripoli’s main counterterrorism apparatus with which they have been cooperating very closely on many international cases including the Manchester bombing in the UK and the links between Islamic State and fuel smuggling to Europe.

Tajoura militias in positions east of Maitiqa airport. Photos: Facebook

It was understood that the Tajourans are being backed by jihadi elements from the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC) and others who fled the war with the Libyan National Army (LNA) in Benghazi and Darnah. It was revealed that they attacked the airport from three axes which, if true, may suggest that some fighters from Tripoli’s Souq al-Jumaa district – SDF’s stronghold- are also backing them.

The SDF deploy fighters and tanks to streets surrounding Maitiqa airport. Photos: Facebook

An LIFG victory will in effect bring GNA’s presence in Tripoli to an end and deal a major blow to the UN-led peace process aimed at concluding Libya’s political transition. The deployment of tanks and heavy weaponry in streets surrounding the airport indicates that the situation is likely to escalate.

Regardless of the winner, GNA’s other opponents, including Marshal Hifter and the Islamic State, are likely to benefit from the war between Tripoli militias as the latter continue its mission of self-destruction.

UPDATE: Maitiqa hospital says 13 people were killed in today’s violence including civilians and 50 others wounded. The figure does not include casualties of Tajoura militias.

UPDATE 2: Photos circulated on Facebook purporting to show an Airbus belonging to Afriqiyah Airways hit by bullets during today's fighting near Maitiqa.

UPDATE 3: Bograh militias turned Tajoura’s al-Motawasset Clinic into a field hospital. Sources said it received 20 wounded militiamen 2 of them died.

UPDATE 4: Bograh militias retreated to Tajoura. The Special Deterrence Force and backing militias are still in full control of Maitiqa airport.

 |  Libya Times Editor  |  News
smoke bellowing from Maitiqa airport

Fierce fighting erupted this morning in Libya’s capital Tripoli between militias aligned with the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) and Islamist militias from the city’s eastern suburb of Tajoura.

Tripoli’s only functioning airport, Maitiqa, was evacuated earlier today after it came under artillery bombardment by Tajoura forces.

Anti-GNA militias based in Tajoura led by Bashir al-Bograh have been plotting for months to attack the airport to free jihadists -including Islamic State members- from a jail located inside it. The jail is said to accommodate over 2500 inmates many of whom are Jihadists.

Today’s offensive against Maitiqa represents the last-ditch attempt by the affiliates of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) to win the turf war in the capital against followers of the hostile ‘Quietist Salafism’ sect.

LIFG’s main target is to defeat a Salafi militia known as the Special Deterrence Force which has emerged in the last two years as the main security player in the city by protecting the GNA headquarters and launching a crackdown on terrorist groups.  The SDF is being acknowledged by GNA’s international backers as Tripoli’s main counterterrorism apparatus with which they have been cooperating very closely on many international cases including the Manchester bombing in the UK and the links between Islamic State and fuel smuggling to Europe.

Tajoura militias in positions east of Maitiqa airport. Photos: Facebook

It was understood that the Tajourans are being backed by jihadi elements from the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC) and others who fled the war with the Libyan National Army (LNA) in Benghazi and Darnah. It was revealed that they attacked the airport from three axes which, if true, may suggest that some fighters from Tripoli’s Souq al-Jumaa district – SDF’s stronghold- are also backing them.

The SDF deploy fighters and tanks to streets surrounding Maitiqa airport. Photos: Facebook

An LIFG victory will in effect bring GNA’s presence in Tripoli to an end and deal a major blow to the UN-led peace process aimed at concluding Libya’s political transition. The deployment of tanks and heavy weaponry in streets surrounding the airport indicates that the situation is likely to escalate.

Regardless of the winner, GNA’s other opponents, including Marshal Hifter and the Islamic State, are likely to benefit from the war between Tripoli militias as the latter continue its mission of self-destruction.

UPDATE: Maitiqa hospital says 13 people were killed in today’s violence including civilians and 50 others wounded. The figure does not include casualties of Tajoura militias.

UPDATE 2: Photos circulated on Facebook purporting to show an Airbus belonging to Afriqiyah Airways hit by bullets during today's fighting near Maitiqa.

UPDATE 3: Bograh militias turned Tajoura’s al-Motawasset Clinic into a field hospital. Sources said it received 20 wounded militiamen 2 of them died.

UPDATE 4: Bograh militias retreated to Tajoura. The Special Deterrence Force and backing militias are still in full control of Maitiqa airport.


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