At least three people, including a civilian, were killed after rocket attacks by forces loyal to Libyan renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar hit the capital Tripoli and a nearby area, the government said early on Friday.
Rockets struck Tripoli port, Mitiga International Airport and a coastal road, said Mustafa al-Mujie, spokesman for the government’s military campaign to combat Haftar’s assault on Tripoli, dubbed Operation Volcano of Rage.
Amin al-Hashemi, a spokesman for the health ministry of Libya’s UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), said two security staff and one civilian were killed and four others were injured in the attacks.
In a statement, Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Taher Siala said the attacks did not comply with international laws as they struck the coastal road near the residences of the Turkish and Italian ambassadors.
“These attacks are unacceptable and denote contempt for international law and human life,” the Italian Foreign Ministry said.
🚨 Happening now: #Tripoli main port shelled while IOM staff were awaiting the disembarkation of some 25 migrants intercepted at sea.
Our staff were forced to evacuate the location. We are concerned about the migrants who remain on the coast guard vessel.
— Safa Msehli (@msehlisafa) May 7, 2020
Meanwhile, six members of an armed group loyal to Haftar surrendered to the GNA on Friday at al-Watiya airbase, according to Operation Volcano of Rage’s media centre.
Al-Watiya, located southwest of Tripoli, is regarded as a key airbase in the country and is second only to Mitiga international airport.
It was captured in August 2014 by Haftar, the leader of the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) in eastern Libya, who used it as his headquarters for western operations.
On Wednesday, at least five civilians were killed and dozens wounded when Haftar’s armed forces shelled Tripoli twice.
Haftar’s artillery on Wednesday hit two Tripoli neighbourhoods, Tajoura and Abu Salim, according to al-Hashemi who added that children and paramedics were among the 46 civilians wounded in the shelling.
“This the first time since the beginning of 2020 that residential neighborhoods are that intensively targeted,” he said.
Last April, Haftar launched a push to capture the city. The fighting, which has killed hundreds of civilians and displaced tens of thousands, has mostly stalemated in recent months.
Libya has been in turmoil since 2011, when a civil war toppled longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi, who was later killed.
Since 2015, the country has been split between rival administrations in the east and the west, each backed by armed groups supported by an array of foreign powers.
Haftar’s offensive is supported by France and Russia, as well as Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other key Arab countries.
The government in Tripoli is backed by Turkey, which deployed troops and fighters to help defend the capital in January, as well as by Italy and Qatar.