A military training school suffered a deadly airstrike over the weekend in Tripoli, with at least 30 cadets killed and at least another 30 injured, according to a GNA spokesman. The details surrounding the airstrike are still unclear, but seems to be the work of LNA air forces. The LNA has so far rejected any connection to the event.
The UN mission to Libya added that the airstrikes have forced health and educational facilities to shut down temporarily. Rockets and shelling also forced Tripoli’s only functioning airport to close down on Friday.
The strikes comes at a time of increased air strikes and shelling in and around Tripoli in recent weeks, which have also killed at least 11 civilians since early December. Since Haftar’s assault on Tripoli in April, at least 280 civilians and around 2000 fighters have been killed in the fighting, with close to 150,000 people internally displaced.
The latest fighting saw LNA fighter jets bomb targets and arms depots in Misrata, a GNA militia stronghold. The LNA spokesman said these were preemptive strikes for expected landing points for Turkish military assistance.
Throughout the weekend of intense fighting, Haftar's spokesman called on all Misratan militias to "lay down their arms by midnight Sunday and withdraw peacefully. If they did not, the LNA will target Misrata "every day, non stop and in an unprecedentedly intensive way".
Related, 3 were reported killed in UAE drone strikes operating on behalf of the LNA on Saturday. The UAE operated drones carried out 10 total airstrikes around Tripoli, according to GNA sources, as well as in Zliten.
Only 2 days after LNA commander Haftar announced his "final" push to take Tripoli, intensified fighting has broken out over the past 24 hours between LNA and GNA forces south of the capital. This is almost 8 months after Haftar's offensive began to try to take Tripoli and end the ongoing civil conflict.
As part of the recent round of fighting, Haftar's forces called in reinforcements as fighting raged in the southern reaches of Tripoli and as the LNA forces took control of al-Tawghaar. GNA forces refuted this claim. An LNA spokesman said they shot down a Turkish drone backing GNA forces over the town of Ain Zara, in the southern suburbs of Tripoli. LNA forces also reportedly captured a GNA military camp. LNA forces also launched air strikes against an air base in Misrata, a GNA stronghold, targeting the warehouses that store the Turkish drones.
GNA sources are reporting that they managed to shoot down an LNA Mig-23 fighter jet yesterday near Al Zawiya, west of Tripoli. Further reports on social media claimed the pilot, who was captured after managing to eject, was Major General Amer Al-Jagam, the commander of the LNA air force in Al Zawiya. The co -pilot failed to eject and was killed.
LNA forces are being blamed for two air strikes in Libya that killed at least 16 civilians so far, mostly children, according to the GNA. One raid took place in the al-Swani area, south of Tripoli, where at least 5 children were killed and more wounded. The other attack took place in the southern town of Murzuq, where 9 children and 2 women were killed in drone attacks. The GNA is labelling these as war crimes and calling on the international community to "assume its responsibility toward (halting) these criminal acts that target and terrorise civilians."
Oil production at the El Feel oil field was brought back online today, after it was shut down temporarily yesterday due to clashes between GNA and LNA forces, including LNA airstrikes. After LNA forces took back full control over the field, the National Oil Corporation announced production was back online. According to the NOC, no employees were harmed. Although the facilities sustained minor damage, conditions were deemed safe to resume production.
NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla issued a warning to the warring sides, noting, "Any fighting in the vicinity of any of our facilities forces us to cease production, in order to ensure the safety of our employees. When production ceases, all Libyans lose out."
Fighting at the El Feel oil field in southwest Libya forced a shutdown of the production facilities earlier today. The field, along with most of Libya's oil fields, have been under the control of Haftar and the Eastern-based LNA forces, but was temporarily seized by militias aligned with the Tripoli-based GNA. The 73,000 bpd oil field is operated by Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) along with the Italian ENI, who stopped output as fighting broke out in the area and one of the compounds was hit by LNA air strikes working to take back control over the area.
NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla said that no one was hurt in the strikes, but "production will remain shuttered until military activity ceases and armed groups pull out". An LNA spokesman said Wednesday evening that the GNA fighters who took control of the field earlier that day had been expelled.
Haftar's LNA announced a no-fly zone over the weekend on Tripoli and the surrounding areas. No flights are allowed "without prior coordination with the General Command of the Armed Forces." The LNA spokesman noted the reason for this involved "developments in the military operations, and advancement of the army's forces into the capital."... "it is necessary to warn the aviation authority and all airlines companies using this area.... any suspicious target that threatens the safety of the people will be fired upon..."
The timing of the announcement is unclear, but may be connected to the shooting down of an Italian drone by LNA forces a few days prior. The Italian Ministry of Defense confirmed it lost a drone, and sid that it was conducting a migrant-related support operation, and conveyed the flight plan to Libyan authorities.
The Tripoli-based GNA, in response, said that any action threatening civil aviation and airports "amounts to crimes punishable under national and international law".
LNA forces reported they carried out air strikes in GNA-held Misrata earlier today, targeting a munitions depot and armoured vehicles delivered from Turkey. This, only hours after a biscuit factory was bombed in Tripoli killing 10, mostly foreign workers, in what the UN envoy to Libya said might be considered a war crime. The Tripoli government blames the LNA for this strike, which denies its involvement.
Fighting around Tripoli has stalemated in recent weeks, as both sides and their foreign backers, Turkey on the GNA side and the UAE and Egypt on the LNA side, have introduced attack drones and fighter jets (especially on the LNA side). The strikes on the ammunition depot were followed by further explosions, according to residents sharing pictures on social media. The LNA's spokesman said it was attacking Turkish supplied arms, something which Turkey denied, reiterating only its support for a "ceasefire in Libya and the continuation of efforts for a political resolution under the U.N.'s auspices as a topic of priority".
The strike on the factory is one of hundreds of drone attacks in recent months, some of which have killed and harmed innocent civilians. Salame, the UN envoy in Libya, said that the LNA, helped by the UAE, has conducted over 800 drone attacks, while the Tripoli government, backed by Turkey, has conducted around 240 such attacks. He blamed the escalation on the increasing involvement of foreigners and mercenaries.
The Tripoli based GNA authorities at Misrata airport seized a Libyan Airlines craft that was operating from LNA-held Benghazi's Benina airport. The plane flew into the main airport near Tripoli for maintenance. According to the airline's Benghazi spokesperson, this was the only Libyan Airlines plane operating out of eastern Benghazi. The seizure, he noted, is causing serious disruption as the plane operates three international flights daily from Benghazi.
The airplane was stopped by GNA authorities after the maintenance issues were concluded. An LNA spokesman warned that the craft must be returned or it could lead to "escalatory measures in their airspace".