By Ashraf Abdul Wahab.
Tripoli, 13 July 2014:
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.
A worker at Tripoli Airport told the Libya Herald that a number of missiles had hit the car park and passengers had been trapped in the terminal since fighting broke out in the early hours of this morning. He said roughly 30 aircraft were on the ground and that all incoming air traffic had been diverted. Afriqiyah Airlines has reported that its incoming flights to Tripoli have been rerouted to Misrata.
While exact details of the opening movements of the clashes remain unclear it appears that a number of brigades including Central Libya Shield, the Marsa Misratan Brigade, Hateen, the 27th Mobile Infantry and the Libyan Revolutionaries Operation Room attempted to surround the airport, attacking from all sides.
The patchwork force has declared itself as the Fajr or Dawn Operation and has pledged to rid the capital of all “illegal” brigades. Its principal targets are the Zintani brigades of Qaqaa and Sawaiq which hold the airport and airport road.
All forces involved in the ongoing clashes are recognised by the state and are nominally under its control.
At the moment, reports have emerged that Zintani forces have managed to rebuff the attack and fighting has spread to the outskirts of the city particularly to the south west. The sounds of explosions can be heard across Tripoli and plumes of smoke can be seen rising.
In the early hours of the morning a car bomb exploded at the apartment blocks on the capital’s airport road. It is not known how the explosion was linked to this morning’s clashes.