Libyan Government National Unity (GNA) forces announced on Wednesday June 3 that they have regained control of Tripoli International Airport, which has been out of service since 2014, after heavy fighting against forces loyal to Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the strong man from eastern Libya.

"Our forces have fully liberated Tripoli international airport," pro-GNA forces spokesman Mohamad Gnounou said in a statement.

Several attacks in this area

Destroyed in 2014 by fighting between rival militias, this civilian airport, the largest in the country, is located about 20 kilometers south of the capital, a strategic area. He had been occupied by pro-Haftar forces since the first weeks of their offensive launched in April 2019 to seize Tripoli, seat of the GNA, recognized by the UN.

Pro-GNA forces "are chasing Haftar's militias who are fleeing towards Gasr Ben Gachir", further south, according to Mohamad Gnounou.

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The operation for the recovery of Tripoli international airport began Wednesday morning, supported by drones which targeted the positions and equipment of rival forces, the same source said. 

For two weeks, pro-government forces have been carrying out large-scale ground and air attacks in this sector. They had successfully surrounded the airport area before the final assault on Wednesday. 

A recent resumption of discussions 

Forces loyal to Marshal Haftar did not comment on this setback, the most significant since the loss last month of Al-Watiya air base, a large rear base at Camp Haftar, 140 kilometers south west of Tripoli.

The setback comes shortly after the UN in New York announced the resumption of talks between the belligerents, welcoming a "first positive step".

Libya has been in chaos since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi's regime in 2011. In the past year, the conflict has been exacerbated by increasing foreign interference, with the United Arab Emirates and Russia supporting Camp Haftar, and Turkey that of the GNA.

It has left hundreds of people dead, including many civilians, and forced some 200,000 people to flee.

With AFP

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