Tripoli’s International Airport ‘Being Destroyed!’

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LIBYA’S Interim Government has called on the two sides in the violent clashes between rival militias in the surrounds of Tripoli International Airport, which had been continuing since dawn that morning, to ‘stop hostile acts and terrorising peaceful people’.

In a statement issued on Sunday, the government also called on the attackers to stop military actions immediately without any preconditions.

The government held the leaders of these groups legally, ‘morally and religiously responsible for spilling people’s blood’, particularly during the blessed month of Ramadan, by ‘using the weapons which were supposed to be used to defend Libya, the Libyans, and Libya’s guests, and not to kill them’.

The statement pointed out that the government was holding talks with the international community over the issue of protecting lives and Libya’s vital facilities from destruction and sabotage and that it had held ‘several urgent consultations today’ (Sunday).

The statement pointed out that the government had instructed the forces of the Interior Ministry and the Libyan Army to secure the city’s streets, quarters, and the vital targets and installations.

It announced a state of emergency in all the hospitals and medical facilities in order to confront any emergency in the wake of the fall of six dead and the injury of 25 others as a result of these clashes.

The government urged in its statements the sons of the Libyan people to remain calm, preserve the resources, and consider these public utilities, including Tripoli International Airport, to be detached from any conflicts and to leave their future to the specialists.

The statement stressed that the peaceful expression of a clear stance for Libyans would help the government and the international community to adopt the necessary measures to protect the installations and the lives of Libyans.

The government called for an immediate dialogue between the sides with the help of civil society organisations and the country’s wise men and notables in order to establish contact and to mediate to spare blood, solve any disputes, and stay away from resorting to arms between the sons of the one homeland, a matter in which there would be no winning side.

The Interim Government stressed that the military operations targeting the Tripoli International Airport area and other locations in the suburbs of Tripoli City in the early hours of Sunday, had been led by field commanders belonging to battalions and regional forces and were moving without orders and without any legal cover.

The Interior Ministry urged the citizens to stay away from the areas of armed clashes in Tripoli City and called on all the fighting forces to stop the fighting immediately in the populated areas in Tripoli City, which was spreading fear in the hearts of the citizens and obstructing normal life.

In its statement, the ministry stressed that the acting interior minister had issued his instructions to the general administration of central security and to the Tripoli security directorate to carry out their national duty and to head to the streets to protect the city and to take the necessary measures to restore security to it.

Meanwhile, Gharyan Military Council announced on Sunday morning that all Gharyan Town exists were considered closed and warned citizens against heading to the capital, Tripoli, until further notice.

Gharyan Military Council pointed out in a statement, that due to the deteriorating security conditions, military operations and the spread of all kinds of weapon on all the roads leading to the capital Tripoli, and out of concern for the citizens’ safety, the Military Council of the town of Gharyan advised all the citizens heading to the capital Tripoli to refrain from that and that all of Gharyan Town exits leading to Tripoli were considered closed, except for extreme necessity until the security conditions improved in the capital.

In the east of the country on Sunday, the bombardment with Grad rockets and mortar shells of some districts in Benghazi City and its suburbs continued at dawn.

A security source at Benghazi Al-Sa’iqah Special Forces said that army forces had responded to the source of the rockets which targeted some military positions belonging to the army in the Binina area and Bu-Atni, in addition to targeting the security directorate.

The source pointed out to the Libyan News Agency (WAL) that army forces had responded to the source of the rockets, which were fired from Rafallah al-Sahati Battalion in Al-Hawari, Sidi Faraj and the Qanfuzah area.

The source said that 12 rockets had fallen near the residential quarters in the Binina area and that a Grad rocket had fallen in the main street opposite Abdu Isma’il Palace in the Al-Rahbah area but without causing any human injuries.

The source added that army forces were continuing to shell the outlawed militias’ camps, pointing out that the success of the operation in Benghazi had reached 75 per cent.

Representatives from Mizdah, Qariyat and a number of other towns had last week called on the government to improve security on the road from Gharyan south to Al-Shuwayraf.

A delegation discussed their concerns about safety in their areas with Prime Minister Abdallah al-Thinni last Thursday, 10 July, afternoon at the Prime Ministry headquarters.

They demand that the army provide full security and checkpoints on the Gharyan-Shuwayraf road as part of a new programme to ensure safe passage for their residents.

In response, the prime minister promised that patrols from the army and police would be deployed and that the government would take all necessary action to solve the security problem.

• Kenya on Sunday was shutting down its embassy in Libya.

The Kenyan cabinet decided on the move in the light of what it described as the current ‘political instability’.

It is meanwhile boosting its diplomatic presence in Algeria and Morocco.

• Egyptian state-owned Nile News TV carried an urgent screen caption on Sunday, reading: ‘Fighting around the airport of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, and all flights suspended.’

The aviation movement between Cairo and Tripoli was halted due to the deteriorating security situation around the Libyan capital airport, Egypt navigation sources said on Sunday.

In statements, the sources said that they received a signal from the Tripoli airport authorities in which they said that the aviation movement was suspended, after confrontations took place between armed groups around the airport.

Fighting has erupted with grad rockets fired in and around Tripoli Airport as a coalition of Islamist militias has attempted to wrest control of the premises from Zintani militias stationed there, Egyptian state news agency MENA reported.

Foreign Minister Samih Shukri authorised assistant to foreign minister for neighbouring countries, Muhammad Badr-al-Din, to represent Egypt at a two-day consultative ministerial meeting for Libya’s neighbouring states in Tunis, that began on Sunday.

Shukri was staying in Cairo to closely follow up the situation in the Gaza Strip and resume Egypt’s calls to halt the Israeli aggressions against the Palestinians, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Badr Abd-al-Ati said.