Islamists mount heaviest assault so far on Libya's main airport in Tripoli

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 July, 2014, 4:51am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 July, 2014, 4:51am


Islamist militia launched their heaviest assault so far on Libya's main airport in Tripoli yesterday, two days after a truce with the rivals that control it collapsed, a security official said.

"The airport was attacked with mortar rounds, rockets and tank fire," an airport security official said. "It was the most intense bombardment so far."

Islamist militia first attacked the airport on July 13, forcing a halt to all flights. The offensive has caused so much damaged that aviation officials believe the airport will be closed for months.

The security official said the militia who control the airport, based in the hill town of Zintan southwest of the capital, and derided by their opponents as the armed wing of liberals within the government, had responded with heavy fire. He had no immediate word on any casualties.

Residents of the Qasr Bin Gheshir district close to the airport spoke of heavy exchanges with both sides deploying tanks.

The Islamists have been reinforced by other militia from Libya's third city Misrata, one of the key battlefields of the Nato-backed uprising of 2011 that toppled and killed ruler Muammar Gaddafi.