News / Middle East

Renegade Libyan General Claims Air Strikes on Tripoli

A woman holds a portrait of former Libyan army officer Khalifa Haftar, during a rally supporting Haftar, in Benghazi, Libya, Aug. 1, 2014.
A woman holds a portrait of former Libyan army officer Khalifa Haftar, during a rally supporting Haftar, in Benghazi, Libya, Aug. 1, 2014.
Reuters

Renegade General Khalifa Haftar's air force was responsible for strikes on Islamist-leaning militia in Tripoli on Monday, one of his commanders said, after weeks of fighting for the capital in Libya's worst violence since Moammar Gadhafi was toppled in 2011.

Fighters from Misrata - east of Tripoli - have been battling militia from the western Zintan region for weeks and have thrown the North African state into anarchy. Zintanis and Misratis worked together to topple Gadhafi but have fallen out since.

The fighting hitherto has been limited to ground action with artillery and rockets. None of the militias had been thought to own warplanes, while the central government has only an outdated air force, badly in need of repair.

Libyan television news channels speculated that the country's neighbors might be behind the overnight air strikes, which Tripoli official Mohammed al-Kriwi said had killed about five people and wounded as many as 30.

A U.S. official and an Egyptian security source, both speaking on condition of anonymity, said their countries had not been involved. A NATO official said, "There are no fighter jets under NATO command involved in operations over Libya".

NATO air strikes helped rebels overthrow Gadhafi.

The air attacks escalate a struggle between Islamist and more moderate forces as well as between militias from different cities all vying for power in the oil producer. Central government has no control of either Tripoli or Benghazi.

Forces from Zintan had allied themselves with Haftar and stormed parliament in May, saying it had an Islamist agenda.

Referring to Haftar's campaign against Islamists which he had launched in Benghazi in May, his air defense commander, Saqer al-Jouroushi, told Reuters on Monday: "We, the Operation Dignity, officially confirm to have conducted air strikes on some militias' locations belonging to Misrata militias."

Clashes between Haftar's forces and Islamist fighters also broke out in Benghazi around 5 p.m. (1500 GMT) with one of his helicopters opening fire. A Reuters reporter at the scene heard loud explosions. Eleven of Haftar's men were taken to hospital, a military source said.

Jets heard after midnight

Tripoli residents said they heard several jets overhead after midnight, followed by loud explosions. No more planes were heard but fighting resumed in parts of the city in the morning.

A Zintani source said fighters in his unit saw planes bombing a Misrata militia position. "Our forces at the airport saw massive and accurate bombings," he said. Reuters reporters were not immediately able to access the area.

The Tripoli government said it did not know to whom the warplanes belonged. "The government does currently not have any convincing indications to establish which side was behind this," it said in a statement.

The central government of the OPEC member state has no functioning national army and most officials working from Tobruk in Libya's far east where the new parliament has set up to escape the violence.

An Egyptian security source said air traffic between the two countries had been interrupted for six hours and that Libyan air controllers had cited security reasons.

Some Tripoli residents tired of daily fighting disrupting power and food supplies, hope NATO will intervene in Libya.

On Sunday, the U.N. Mission in Libya said it "deeply regrets that there was no response to the repeated international appeals and its own efforts for an immediate ceasefire". The new U.N. special envoy, Bernardino Leon, who is due to start his job on September 1, said he might travel to Tripoli as early as this week.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More