Small Wars Journal

Libyan Warlord Battles for Control of Tripoli Airport as Militia Forces Push Closer to City

Libyan Warlord Battles for Control of Tripoli Airport as Militia Forces Push Closer to City by Fahmi Hussein and Sudarsan Raghavan – Washington Post

A renegade militia seeking to storm its way into Libya’s capital battled for control of the international airport Saturday in a showdown that threatened to spill into bloody urban combat in the streets of Tripoli.

 

Fighters loyal to warlord Khalifa Hifter said they had overrun the airport, on the southern edge of the city. But forces for Libya’s U.N.-backed government mounted a counterattack — aided by reinforcements flowing into the city — and it was unclear which side held the airfield by nightfall.

 

The airport has been closed since it suffered widespread damage during battles between rival groups in 2014. But it would be a symbolic blow to the government if the site fell to Hifter, who could use it as a key staging ground for further advances.

 

Hifter’s militia is aligned with a separate administration based in eastern Libya. The country, rich in oil and gas reserves, has been split into rival regions for years as the United Nations and others try to hammer out a peace deal and set a road map for elections…

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