TRIPOLI Aug 24 Unidentified war planes attacked
targets in Libya's capital Tripoli on Sunday, hours after forces
from the city of Misrata said they had seized the main airport.
Tripoli residents heard jets followed by explosions at dawn
but no more details were immediately available.
In recent weeks Libya has seen the worst fighting since the
NATO-backed campaign to oust Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Renegade
general Khalifa Haftar has declared war on Islamist-leaning
forces, part of growing anarchy in the oil producer.
His forces claimed responsibility for air raids on Tripoli
on Saturday and last Monday, targeting a group called Operation
Dawn. But this group, consisting mainly of fighters from
Misrata, said on Saturday that it had captured Tripoli's main
airport from a rival faction from Zintan in western Libya.
In the campaign to overthrow Gaddafi, fighters from Zintan
and Misrata were comrades-in-arms. But they later fell out and
this year have turned parts of Tripoli into a battlefield.
Libya's neighbours and Western power worry Libya will turn
into a failed state as the weak government is unable to control
Libya faces the prospect of two competing parliaments, after
the claimed Misrata victory at Tripoli airport which Reuters
could not immediately confirm.
In a challenge to the parliament elected on June 25, a
spokesman for Operation Dawn called for the old General National
Congress (GNC) to be reinstated. Misrata forces have rejected
the new House of Representatives, where liberals and lawmakers
campaigning for a federalist system have made a strong showing.
In a sign of deep divisions between Libya's regions and
political factions the House of Representative declared the
Operation Dawn as well as militant Islamists like the Ansar
al-Sharia as "terrorist groups".
The House of Representatives, which has fled to Tobruk in
the east with senior officials to escape fighting, asked
renegade general Haftar to fight the Operation Dawn forces.
Haftar launched a campaign against Islamists in the eastern
city of Benghazi in May and threw his weight behind the Zintan
His air defence commander, Sager al-Jouroushi, told Reuters
on Saturday that his forces were responsible for the air strikes
on Saturday and a similar attack on Monday.
Misrata forces have blamed the air strikes on Egypt and the
United Arab Emirates, two countries which have cracked down on
Islamists. Libya's government says it does not know who is
behind the attacks.
"This is a war between the Libyan state and the state
institutions led by our sons, soldiers and officers in the army,
against terrorist groups outside of the law," the House of
Representatives said in a statement.
Fighting also erupted between Haftar's troops and allied
army special forces with Islamists in two Benghazi suburbs on
Saturday, killing eight soldiers and wounding 35, medics said.
The violence has prompted the United Nations and foreign
embassies in Libya to evacuate their staff and citizens, and
foreign airlines have largely stopped flying to Libya.
Libya's central government lacks a functioning national army
and relies on militia for public security. But while these
forces receive state salaries and wear uniforms, they report in
practice to their own commanders and towns.
(Reporting by Heba al-Shibani, Ahmed Ellumami, Feras Bosalum,
Ayman al-Warfalli and Ulf Laessing; Writing by Ulf Laessing in
Cairo; Editing by Stephen Powell)