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Airstrikes on Mitiga Airport: Libyan Dawn threatens counterattack

The airstrikes which hit Tripoli’s Mitiga airport today, Tuesday, at around 8.30 am had minimal physical effect. Two bombs exploded in a grassed area between the runway and the control tower. There was little damage and no casualties as the Libya Herald saw when visiting the site this afternoon. Only a tree, located some distance away from the control tower, was partially destroyed by the second explosion. There was also some damage to the perimeter wall.

“My men saw a MiG-23 flying low altitude just before the explosions happened “, Sadiq Turki a Mitiga security officer, said. The airport’s security forces are gathered from former revolutionaries and full-time soldiers.

Sadiq Turki is convinced that the military plane flew from Al-Wattiya airbase and that it was dispatched by Hafter’s forces as, he claimed, was the first airstrike on Mitiga on Monday. “The government [that of Omar al-Hassi] should give us sophisticated weapons to defend ourselves. Mitiga Airport is now purely a civil airport, and we have no defence protection”.

“There will be surprises”

Colonel Ali Abu Deyia from the air force supporting Hassi said that he would place anti-aircraft guns around all airports controlled by Libyan Dawn to “stabilise” the situation. Specifically Mitiga Airport would be more secured, he said, “because it is the airport of the capital”.

Asked if Libyan Dawn was prepared to bomb airports controlled by Hafter and the LNA in retaliation, Abu Deyia replied that “there will be surprises”.

Hassi had been scheduled to give to a press conference in the Prime Ministry this afternoon following the attack. Instead, Mahmoud Ismail from his Supreme Council of Defence turned up. He threatened “to target with a iron fist” what he called Hafter’s stronghold. He also called on the Hassi government and international organisations to “freeze the money” and “restrain the movements” of Hafter and “his gang of remaining Qaddafists”. Ismail insisted that his Supreme Council would “no spare effort in the defence of Libyans, in all regions of Libya.”

Hadi Fornaji adds: Yesterday, at a press conference in Tripoli after the first strike on Mitiga and the fall of the strategically important town of Kikla in the Jebel Nafusa, Hassi had declared war on Hafter, the House of Representatives and the Thinni government in Beida. He claimed that until then he had been prepared for dialogue with his opponents. He also claimed that a number of foreign countries were trying to bring about his and the revolution’s downfall by providing arms and personnel to Hafter and that UNSMIL leader Bernardino Leon was not impartial and did not understand what was going on in Libya.

The same line was taken today by the de facto spokesperson for the Hassi government, head of the Foreign Media department Jamal Zubia, “There is no room for dialogue now”, he said. “Now it’s about how to defend ourselves. We can’t talk about dialogue while our people are being bombed. Hafter is a criminal. He has killed thousands of people. He is continuing to take revenge for Qaddafi, using mercenaries and remnants of the Qaddafi forces.”

He too condemned the international community for not recognising the Supreme Court ruling annulling the elections to the House of Representatives in June.

He also said that the airport had had to be closed as a result of the attack with all flights diverted to Misrata. “It’s very hard to run flights under risk,” he said. But it would be opened very shortly, as soon as security was put in place.

Referring to yesterday’s attack, he said that three aircraft have been put in danger because of the action. One was landing, one taxi-ing and one taking off, he claimed. One was an oil flight, one Afriqiyah aircraft, and the third a private plane.

Libya Herald

This article was originally published here.

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