Armed rival militia groups battle in Tripoli using tanks and anti-aircraft guns as the power struggle to control a fractured oil-rich Libya intensifies.
At least 28 people were killed and over 120 injured as rival armed groups fought for control of the Libyan capital Tripoli on Friday.
Heavy gunfire and artillery explosions rocked the districts of Abu Salim, Salahedeen and Qasr Bin Ghashir since early morning, when forces allied to the self-proclaimed National Salvation Government (GNC) tried to capture the territory controlled by the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).
A third Tobruk-based government, aligned with military commander Khalifa Haftar, urged the people of Tripoli to “stand hand in hand with the GNA and its security apparatus to defeat the saboteurs.”
— Nadia Ramadan (@NadiaR_LY) May 26, 2017
At least 28 people were killed in the urban combat and more than 120 injured, according to health officials.
Armored vehicles, pickup trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns and even tanks were seen rolling in the streets, of Tripoli according to witnesses and videos posted on social media.
— Matog Saleh (@MatogSaleh) May 26, 2017
It was not immediately clear how much territory either faction gained or controlled following a day of heavy clashes.
The UN Security Council condemned the escalating violence in Tripoli, urging all parties to “exercise restraint” and reiterating that “there can be no military solution” to the conflict.
The UNSC also discussed the recent massacre at the Brak Al-Shati airbase, where some 140 troops and civilians were reportedly slaughtered after GNA-allied militia raided the facility under control of Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA). The council said it “welcomes” the PM’s decision to launch an investigation and noted the words of condemnation from other “political institutions.”
— RT (@RT_com) May 25, 2017
The Tripoli-based GNA is the faction which has secured international UN recognition after Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was deposed and assassinated amid the NATO-led intervention in Libya. However, the group has failed to assert centralized control of the fractured state, and is constantly challenged by rival governments and dozens of armed gangs and militias.
The political vacuum that engulfed Libya following Gaddafi’s demise has allowed Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) Al-Qaeda and other terrorist and jihadist groups gain traction and use the country’s territory to launch attacks in neighboring states.
— RT (@RT_com) May 26, 2017
On Friday, Egypt launched airstrikes on terrorist training camps near Derna in eastern Libya in retaliation for a horrendous attack on Coptic Christians that left 28 people killed and 24 injured. Egypt’s military believes the these facilities were used to train the gunmen. The strike was apparently coordinated with Libya, since the air force under control of Haftar stated they had “participated” in the operation.