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Libya suspends operations at recently reopened Tripoli airport after rocket fire

Rocket fire forced the suspension of all flights into and out of Tripoli’s sole functioning airport for several hours on Wednesday, January 22, Libya’s embattled government said.

Mitiga airport had only reopened early last week following a truce in nine months of fighting for control of the capital with forces loyal to a rival administration based in the east.

Six military-grade Grad rockets targeted the airport in what government forces spokesperson Mohammed Gnunu branded a “flagrant threat” to the safety of air traffic and a “new violation” of the ceasefire.

He said the rockets were fired by the “militia” of the “war criminal Haftar,” referring to the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army of rogue field marshal Khalifa Haftar that have been battling to take the capital.

Airport management said flights would be suspended, before announcing a few hours later that they had resumed.

A Libyan Airlines flight from Tunis was forced to divert to Libya’s third city Misrata, 200 km (125 miles) east of the capital.

Despite repeated appeals from United Nations envoy Ghassan Salame, Mitiga has been the target of several air raids and rocket strikes since Haftar’s forces launched their offensive last April.

Haftar’s forces, which accuse the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord of using Mitiga for military purposes, say they target “Turkish drones” being launched from the airport to attack their troops in southern Tripoli.

The GNA has denied the accusations.

Located east of the capital, Mitiga is a former military airbase used by civilian traffic since Tripoli international airport was heavily damaged in fighting in 2014.

Haftar leaves Russia without signing Libya peace deal

With reporting from AFP

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