By Jamie Prentis.
Tunis, 17 January 2018:
Tripoli’s Mitiga airport and its environs are on high alert tonight as the Rada Special Deterrence Force prepared for the possibility of a counter-attack by the repelled militias now mainly regrouping in Tajura.
It was reported that Rada had declared a state of emergency in the Mitiga area and had set up sand banks to fortify its stronghold.
The roundabout close to Mitiga’s main gate in Suq Al-Juma was described as a place to be avoided in particular.
Meanwhile, the Tajura-based fighters also blocked off roads in areas they controlled, in anticipation of an attack by RADA and its Presidency Council aligned coalition of militias.
However, there were unconfirmed reports that their barriers had been removed, with some saying a ceasefire could have been declared. Local figures and the municipality were understood to have played a key role in the unblocking of roads.
At least 20 people were killed and dozens more injured on Monday as an alliance of Tajura-based and Islamist militias attacked Mitiga, supposedly trying to free their comrades from the compound jail.
Mitiga airport, meanwhile, remained shut for the third day running today following the damage inflicted on the planes to the four airlines that operated there. Airport authorities said it was up to the government to decide when it could reopen. Scheduled flights have so far been redirected to Misrata. A series of flights took off today to return stranded passengers from Tunis and Istanbul landing in Misrata and Benghazi’s Benina airport.
Presidency Council head Faiez Serraj and his transport minister held talks with Mitiga representatives as they sought to evaluate the damage to the airport and when it could reopen.
The International Organisation for Migration also said they had cancelled a migrant repatriation flight to Togo because of the situation.