TRIPOLI/BENGHAZI, LIBYA – Forces from the Libyan city of Misrata on Saturday seized Tripoli’s main airport after more than a month of fighting with a rival group, a Misrata spokesman said.
Pictures on social media purportedly showed Misrata fighters celebrating at the terminal building and standing on civilian planes in what, if confirmed, would be a big development in the battle to control the capital.
The fighting is the worst since the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. In the NATO-backed campaign to oust Gadhafi, fighters from the western region of Zintan and Misrata, east of Tripoli, were comrades-in-arms. But they later fell out, and this year have turned parts of Tripoli into a battlefield.
Renegade Gen. Khalifa Haftar launched a campaign against Islamists in the eastern city of Benghazi in May and threw his weight behind the Zintan fighters.
In Saturday’s fighting, residents heard explosions early in the morning near the airport, where the two groups have been fighting for control for more than a month.
Local television channel al-Nabaa said planes had attacked four Misrata positions. A Misrata spokesman said the planes had come from Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, two countries which have cracked down on Islamists.