Fighting in Libyan capital delays flights

Khalifa Haftar, Libya's eastern-based commander, salutes as he participates in a security conference in Benghazi recently. (Reuters)
Updated 17 October 2017
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Fighting in Libyan capital delays flights

TRIPOLI: Civilian flights were suspended for several hours at the Libyan capital’s Mitiga airport on Monday evening and Tuesday morning as rival armed groups clashed nearby, a spokesman said.
Sporadic shooting could be heard early on Tuesday near Mitiga, a military air base near the center of Tripoli that has also hosted civilian flights since the international airport was largely destroyed by fighting in 2014.
The airport had reopened by midday. “The flights were suspended but the airport is working normally now,” said Mitiga spokesman Khaled Abukhrais.
The clashes began when the Special Deterrence Force (Rada), a group that controls Mitiga and operates as an anti-crime unit aligned with the UN-backed government, conducted raids in the nearby neighborhood of Ghrarat.
Rada spokesman Ahmed bin Salem said the group targeted in the raids had tried to attack the airport area after a “wanted drug dealer” had been killed when he fired on a Rada patrol.
“The area of Ghrarat is now under the control of our forces and it’s being treated as military zone so we can clear any resistance,” Bin Salem said.
One member of Rada had been killed and two wounded, and there were several casualties among their opponents, he said.
Tripoli is controlled by various armed groups that have built local power bases since Libya’s 2011 revolution.
There have been fewer heavy confrontations in the capital since groups linked to a previous, self-declared government were pushed out of the city earlier this year, but armed skirmishes, kidnapping and other criminal activity are still common.


Syria regime strikes kill 6 civilians in south Damascus, war monitor says

Updated 53 min 25 sec ago
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Syria regime strikes kill 6 civilians in south Damascus, war monitor says

BEIRUT: Syrian regime air strikes have killed six civilians in southern Damascus where government forces are fighting the Daesh group, a war monitor said Wednesday.
The six, including two men and their wives, were killed in the strikes on the Palestinian camp of Yarmuk late Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.
Regime strikes and rocket fire Wednesday morning targeted the neighboring districts of Hajjar Al-Aswad and Qadam, the Britain-based monitor said.
The latest civilian deaths bring to 18 the total of non-fighters killed in regime bombardment on the capital’s southern neighborhoods since Thursday last week.
Yarmuk, which is now Daesh’s last urban redoubt in Syria or Iraq, was once Syria’s biggest Palestinian refugee camp, home to around 160,000 people.
But the United Nations’ agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA says most of the 6,000 refugees still living in the camp last week have since fled.
At least 52 pro-regime fighters have been killed in fighting to expel Daesh from the capital’s southern suburbs since April 19, the Observatory says.
Syrian officials do not usually disclose losses within army ranks.
The monitor has said at least 35 militant fighters were also killed during the same period.
There are an estimated 1,000 Daesh fighters left inside Yarmuk and the adjacent districts of Hajjar Al-Aswad and Qadam.
Daesh swept across large parts of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, declaring a cross-border “caliphate” in areas the jihadists seized.
At its height their pseudo-state covered an area the size of Italy, but Daesh has since lost most of the land it controlled in both countries.
More than 350,000 people have been killed since Syria’s war started in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-regime protests.