By Sami Zaptia.
London, 7 October 2019:
An airstrike on Sunday on a civilian target attributed by the internationally-recognized Tripoli government led by Faiez Serraj to the pro Khalifa Hafter forces, received wide condemned yesterday and today. It was condemned by the Faiez Serraj government, the UK and the U.S. embassy. The LNA has denied conducting the airstrike.
The Tripoli Ministry of Foreign Affairs lodged a formal protest to the Security Council yesterday over the bombing by what it called ‘‘the foreign-backed Haftar militias’’ of the airports of Mitiga and Misrata.
It reported that in its protest letter it complained of how the Security Council is standing idly by in the face of the crimes committed by Haftar and his militias, the most recent of which was the bombing of Misrata’s civilian airport, which injured one of the workers and a number of passenger planes.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also called on the Security Council to shoulder its responsibilities towards the Libyan people, deter and punish the aggressor (Hafter) and hold the countries supporting Haftar’s militias (widely believed to be Egypt and UAE) accountable for its aggression against the capital Tripoli.
The Serraj government yesterday condemned ”in the strongest terms” the continued systematic targeting of what it said were Mitiga and Misrata civilian airports. It said these desperate efforts reflect Hafter’s failure elsewhere and his failed effort to enter Tripoli.
It called on the international community to accept its responsibility, take action and send a fact-finding mission to Libya to establish the facts on the ground. It added that the fighting is causing a security void leaving an opportunity for ISIS to exploit.
The Field Ambulance Service of the Tripoli Ministry of Health, meanwhile, reported that 5 children and one elderly person were provided with medical help as a result of the airstrike on the equestrian club.
On the other hand, Hafter’s official spokesperson, Ahmed Mesmari, said that its ‘‘General Command of the Libyan Arab Armed Forces (LNA) confirms that its air force determines its targets with high accuracy, strong reconnaissance and reliable ground information and chooses its targets from the information bank according to tactical and strategic data, and based on this, it therefore denies that its air force carried out any air strikes near the Oea Tourist Village (the Janzur equestrian club), but rather that this is an inside job by the terrorist militias to pin the charges on the LNA.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said it was ‘‘appalled’’ by the airstrike which it too attributed to ‘‘General Haftar’s forces’’, targeting the Equestrian Club in Tripoli’s Janzur neighbourhood. It said the airstrike reportedly injured a number of innocent children and caused damage to the Club’s facilities.
UNSMIL said that it had dispatched an assessment mission to identify the targeted site and the nature of the attack. The assessment mission was able to confirm that a fighter jet dropped four unguided bombs on the Equestrian Club, a civilian facility, and that neither military assets nor military infrastructure were observed at the targeted site.
It ”condemned in the strongest possible terms this horrific attack” and reiterated that attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructures constitute a grave violation of international humanitarian and human rights law and may constitute a war crime. It said that it will share the information and evidence gathered during yesterday’s assessment mission with the Security Council, the Panel of Experts and other relevant international entities.