By Moutaz Ali and Ashraf Abdul-Wahab.
Tripoli, 6 July 2014:
Elders from Zintan and Janzour are trying to mediate a peace deal after . . .[restrict]clashes re-erupted overnight in west Tripoli between the Special Operations Force of the Ministry of the Interior and forces belonging to the Fursan Janzour Brigade.
The fighting is an extension of the clashes that occurred yesterday in and around Janzour when a checkpoint at Ghairan roundabout manned by the Special Operations Force under the command of the Ministry of the Interior stopped a commander from the Fursan Janzour because his car allegedly had no registration plates, had darkened windows, he had no papers and was carrying a stolen gun. It led his colleagues to try to free him by force.
The overnight fighting, described by local residents as “very violent”, involved heavy weaponry and cut the main coastal road from Tripoli westwards. RPG missiles were fired eastwards from Janzour, and fighting spread to Siyahiya and Regatta, casuing damage but no casualties.
The conflict is seen as having a larger dimension. Many of the those in the Special Operations Force involved are said to be members of Sawaq brigade, who are now being supported by the Qaaqaa Brigade, while the Fursan Janzour are said to have strong links with the Libyan Revolutionaries Operations Room. Yesterday evening, the Qaaqaa Brigade was reported to have called on all its members to report for duty immediately.
The Interior Ministry, however, has stressed that the Sepcial Operations Force is fully under its control and carrying out its directives.
“The Special Operations Force is assigned by the ministry to achieve a security plan in the capital including provide protection to petrol stations, stop cars without plates and with darkened windows as well as a number of other duties,” an Interior Ministry spokesman told the Libya Herald.
A source in Fursan Janzur has meanwhile defended the brigade telling this newspaper it sometimes has to use these cars without plates and with tinted gas in certain cases as when transfering criminals and when involved in raids.
As yesterday, the clashes died down after dawn. The area is now calm.
A committee of elders from Zintan were reported today to be heading to meet their counterparts in Janzour to mediate a settlement.
The fighting has produced considerable anger in and around Janzour. “This is outrageous,” said one local resident. “This is Ramadan. It’s forbidden to fight during Ramadan.”
However, residents in an around Janzour are not optimistic. They fear fresh violence this evening after Maghreb prayers. [/restrict]