News / Middle East

Libya's Islamist Militias Claim Control of Tripoli

  • A building on fire, which witnesses said was hit by a rocket, burns after clashes between rival militias in the Sarraj district in Tripoli, Aug. 23, 2014.
  • Libya Shield Force members are seen near a building on fire, which witnesses said was hit by a rocket, after clashes between rival militias in the Sarraj district of Tripoli, Aug. 23, 2014.
  • Plumes of black smoke are seen after war planes struck Misrata positions in Tripoli in an attack claimed by renegade general Khalifa Haftar, Aug. 23, 2014.

Rival militias fight near Tripoli, Libya, airport

VOA News

Libya is engulfed in new political turmoil, with an Islamist militia openly challenging the legitimacy of the country's elected parliament, after its fighters took control of Tripoli's battered international airport.

After seizing the airport in the Libyan capital, the militia from the coastal city of Misrata called Sunday for the old General National Congress to be reinstated.

It alleged the parliament elected in June was complicit in mysterious airstrikes on Misrati positions at the airport as its militiamen fought rival fighters from the mountainous region of Zintan for six weeks for control of the key facility.

The new parliament, based in Tobruk, 1,600 kilometers east of Tripoli, branded the Misratis as terrorists, along with another group, Ansar al-Sharia, which controls 80 percent of the eastern city of Benghazi

Parliament called the two groups "a legitimate target" of the national army, which has been unable to control violence in the country since the 2011 overthrow of dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

The Misratis directly blamed the airstrikes in the past week on Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

Cairo denied its involvement, but the UAE had no immediate comment.

General National Congress

General National Congress official Omar Hmaidan defended the Islamist militias and called on the old assembly to resume its meetings to, in his words, "unite the country.”

Hmaidan said the new parliament should not meet in an “ivory tower” in the east of the country, but should return to the capital Tripoli. He argued the National Congress is still legal and the new parliament cannot claim to speak for the country.

Hmaidan claimed recently the new parliament has “violated the constitution” with a recent call for foreign intervention in Libya. 

The National Congress' mandate expired last February and many of its members are outside the country. 

Airstrikes on Sunday

Meanwhile, unidentified war planes attacked targets in Libya's capital Tripoli on Sunday, residents said, hours after forces from the city of Misrata said they had seized the main airport.

Tripoli residents heard jets followed by explosions at dawn, but no more details were immediately available.

In recent weeks Libya has seen the worst fighting since the NATO-backed campaign to oust Gadhafi. Renegade general Khalifa Haftar has declared war on Islamist-leaning forces, part of growing anarchy in the oil producer.

His forces claimed responsibility for air raids on Tripoli on Saturday and last Monday, targeting a group called Operation Dawn. But this group, consisting mainly of fighters from Misrata, said on Saturday that it had captured Tripoli's main airport from a rival faction from Zintan in western Libya.

In the campaign to overthrow Gadhafi, fighters from Zintan and Misrata were comrades-in-arms. But they later fell out and this year have turned parts of Tripoli into a battlefield.

Chaos in Libya

 

Libya's neighbors and Western powers worry Libya will turn into a failed state as the weak government is unable to control armed factions.

 

Haftar launched a campaign against Islamists in the eastern city of Benghazi in May and threw his weight behind the Zintan fighters.

Fighting also erupted between Haftar's troops and allied army special forces with Islamists in two Benghazi suburbs on Saturday, killing eight soldiers and wounding 35, medics said.

The violence has prompted the United Nations and foreign embassies in Libya to evacuate their staff and citizens, and foreign airlines have largely stopped flying to Libya.

Libya's central government lacks a functioning national army and relies on militia for public security.

But while these forces receive state salaries and wear uniforms, they report in practice to their own commanders and towns.

Edward Yeranian contributed to this report from Cairo. Some information for this report provided by Reuters.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Rufina from: Free Scotland
August 24, 2014 12:12 PM
"parliament"...?? - a bunch of Islamic idiots trying to kill other Islamic idiots... why should we care...?? - let them kill each other and enjoy the spectacle... its a great entertainment... much better than basketball...


by: meanbill from: USA
August 24, 2014 10:45 AM
Libya and the world should thank the US and NATO again, for bringing (freedom) to another country with their military interference, by killing Qaddafi for the Libyans, and as President Obama "quote" said;.. "He prevented thousands of deaths" by leading the attack without US Congressional approvable to kill Qaddafi..... THANK THE US AND NATO, for this Libyan debacle?.... and Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and now Ukraine?..... and the arming and rearming of Israel, to keep on killing the defenseless Palestinian civilians !!!!!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid