Ongoing clashes between rival factions have left Mitiga International Airport closed for third time in less than two days. Airport officials have released a statement saying that all flights have been put on hold until further notice due to safety concerns.
Clashes first begun on Sunday after the Special Deterrence Force (Rada), an anti-crime unit aligned with the Government of National Accord (GNA), staged raids in Ghararat- a nearby neighborhood. Rada patrols came under heavy fire by armed militia. According to Rada spokesman Ahmed Bin Salem, the armed group targeted in the raids staged an attack on the airport area following the killing of a wanted drug dealer. The drug dealer had been killed after firing on Rada patrols; intensifying clashed between both factions.
The clashes have left three dead and four injured- including a Rada force office. Furthermore, many arrests have been made by Rada forces in Ghararat in attempts to secure the area. Rada forces have also declared the area a “military zone” in attempts to further solidify control and contain the violence.
Despite efforts at establishing stability, clashes are still continuing. As such, Rada forces have warned residents against “moving in places of clashes for their safety”. Flights also remain on hold as clashes are too close to Mitiga, and thus, there is a fear of ammunition hitting airplanes overhead.
The GNA has secured Tripoli and provided security and stability in the city over the last year. Foreign states’ embassies have been returning to Tripoli because of the improved conditions of the city. However, such armed groups attempts to destabilize the capital and surrounding areas is disruptive to the daily lives of Tripoli residents and political stability.
Recently Khalifa Haftar, the commander of Operation Dignity in eastern Libya, has threatened to take over the capital.