A court in the Libyan capital has issued an arrest warrant for former general Khalifa Haftar, hours after his forces hit Tripoli’s only functioning airport with air strikes.
The developments on Tuesday came as UN chief Ban Ki-moon called for a halt to air strikes in Libya and for all warring sides to engage in talks.
“The only way to resolve the current crisis is through dialogue,” Ban said, citing “full confidence” in his special envoy, Bernardino Leon, who is seeking to broker talks on a ceasefire deal.
Libya’s various militias and the internationally recognised government of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani have been engaged in a violent power struggle for months, resulting in the establishment of parallel administrations.
The only way to resolve the current crisis is through dialogue.
The internationally recognised government in Tobruk says it was forced to hit the Mitiga airbase because it had fallen under the control of a rival administration in Tripoli.
The main international airport has been closed since July.
“If an international airport is a symbol of a country’s sovereignty, then Libya is in big trouble,” Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston said.
Awash with weapons
Although the Tobruk government has been recognised internationally, Libya’s Supreme Court this month ruled the Tripoli-based parliament was the legitimate one.
The airport attacks will have repercussions, said Omar al-Hassi, prime minister of the Tripoli government.
“The national salvation government has always adopted the policy of peace, acceptance and dialogue,” Hassi said. “Yet now, we are forced by what’s happened in Benghazi, Kalkla and Tripoli to embrace the policy of war and armed confrontation.”
More than three years after dictator Muammar Gaddafi was toppled, Libya is awash with weapons, and all three main cities – Tripoli, Benghazi and Misrata – are largely controlled by militias opposed to Thani’s government.
Residents of the area say they are the ones ultimately paying the price for the ongoing conflict.
“We had one air strike and this morning we were surprised with another one,” a local resident told Al Jazeera.
“We woke up to find airplanes striking three times. They hit houses where families and women were staying. They had nothing to do with the airbase.”