Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, May 2020
15 Libyan Civilians Killed, 50 Injured in Indiscriminate Bombardment on Tripoli by Hafter's Forces
May 11, 2020
Tripoli wakes up to a horrifying morning, with Hafter's forces bombarding Souq Al-Jumu'a, Sab'a, Tariq Al-Soor, Bab Bin Ghasheer, and Mitiqa airport, causing loss in life and damages to property.
Libya Observer, May 9, 2020
طرابلس تستيقظ مجدّدا على صباح مرعب
مايو 09, 2020
قصف ميليشيات حفتر على منطقة سوق الجمعة شرقي طرابلس
استيقظ سكان العاصمة طرابلس مجدّدا، السبت على قصف مروّع لميليشيات حفتر استهدف بالصواريخ والقذائف أحياء سوق الجمعة والسبعة وطريق السور وباب بن غشير. وبحسب مصادر فإن القصف أصاب طائرة مدنية داخل مطار معيتيقة المدني، كما أدّى إلى اشتعال النيران في خزانات وقود تابعة لشركة البريقة لتسويق النفط في المطار. وتصاعدت ألسنة الدخان من المناطق التي تعرّضت للقصف بأكثر من 30 صاروخ وقذيفة ولم تلعن أي جهة حتى الآن عن الخسائر البشرية أو المادية الأخرى الناجمة عن القصف. واستهدفت ميليشيات حفتر منطقة زاوية الدهماني، أمس الأول الخميس بالقرب من منتزه عائلي والإذاعة الوطنية ووزارة الخارجية ومقرّ المجلس الأعلى للدولة والسفارة التركية ومقر إقامة السفير الإيطالي مما أدّى إلى سقوط قتلى وجرحى من المدنيين ورجال الأمن.
UNSMIL condemns Saturday’s fierce indiscriminate LNA shelling of civilian sites in Tripoli
By Sami Zaptia.
UNSMIL yesterday condemned Saturday’s fierce indiscriminate bombardment of several civilian sites in Tripoli by Khalifa Hafter’s Libyan National Army (LNA). It said the LNA’s indiscriminate bombing has killed more than 15 and injuring 50 civilians since 1 May. Libya’s internationally recognized government called international condemnations as ‘timid’.
Here is the full statement:
According to reports and in what has become an all too familiar but frightening spectacle, forces affiliated to the Libyan National Army (LNA) bombarded Mitiga airport today as a civilian plane was preparing to depart Tripoli.
The strikes caused damage to passenger aircrafts, fuel storage facilities, firefighting trucks, the passenger lounge, and with reported civilian casualties. These horrifying attacks occur on a regular basis in close proximity to civilian neighbourhoods.
Today’s heavy shelling is one in a series of indiscriminate attacks, most of which are attributable to pro-LNA forces, killing more than 15 and injuring 50 civilians since 1 May.
UNSMIL renews its strong condemnation of attacks impacting civilians and civilian infrastructure and reiterates its call for those responsible for crimes under international law to be brought to justice.
Tripoli government says Hafter’s heinous violations and crimes indicate near end of his bloody project to seize power. Insist will use all means to defeat him, no longer cares about timid international community condemnations
By Sami Zaptia.
Libya Herald, London, 10 May 2020:
In its condemnation statement last night, the internationally recognized Libyan government in Tripoli said that it no longer cared about the ‘timid’ international community condemnations of the attacks on civilians in the capital.
The statement, issued by Faiez Serraj in his role as the Supreme Commander of the (Western-based) Libyan Army, came after about 150 missiles/shells were fired at a number of Tripoli districts leading to the loss of the lives of ‘‘dozens’’ of civilians, the statement said. This included considerable damage to Mitiga airport and at least one aircraft preparing to take-off.
The statement said the onslaught was a desperate reaction by the Khalifa Hafter’s Libyan National Army (LNA) to their recent losses on the battlefield. It vowed to take matters into its own hands in defending the capital using all means until it defeats the aggressor forces of Hafter.
Here is the full statement:
‘‘The forces of the war criminal on Saturday fired more than 100 missiles and missiles at residential neighbourhoods in the centre of the capital Tripoli, and targeted the Mitiga International Airport with dozens of missiles, to hit civilian planes that were preparing to fly to return citizens stranded abroad due to the Corona epidemic, and also severely damaged the infrastructure of the airport.
These days, the senseless acts of the terrorist war criminal, which has claimed the lives of dozens of civilians, are evidence of weakness and despair after successive defeats, his militias and his mercenaries, and are an indication of the near end of his bloody project to seize power.
We no longer care about the timid condemnations of the international community, which are still unable to name the aggressor by name, hold him accountable and stop those who support him.
We therefore reaffirm to our free Libyan people that we have promised God to take it into our own hands to defeat the aggression completely throughout the country.
These heinous violations and crimes will only push us to insist on beating with an iron hand by all means and means available, and we will have no obstacle to provide what the war effort needs to complete this task.
In this regard, we make a final appeal to young people who are deceived by the aggressors to turn themselves in as quickly as their colleagues have done and find the best treatment from us.’’
Massive bombardment hits Tripoli as water supplies threatened
May 10, 2020
A withering bombardment shook Tripoli on Sunday as the eastern-based forces of Khalifa Haftar fought overnight for new territory in the southern suburbs after losing ground recently around the city.
Adding to the misery of Tripoli residents, the main water supplier to northwest Libya said armed men in the south had stormed one of its facilities, reducing supply.
“My father said we should be ready to leave at any moment... the fighting last night was heavier than at any time before,” said a resident of Abu Salim district, near a frontline.
“We would leave to survive, but where can we go?... we will be on the street. It’s hopeless,” the resident added by phone.
Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) has been trying to capture Tripoli for 13 months, but Turkish military aid this year for the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) has helped it regain some ground.
The LNA, backed by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia, last week announced a new air campaign, but most bombardment since then has been through artillery.
Last month the pro-GNA forces recaptured a string of towns in the northwest from the LNA, re-establishing their control between Tripoli and the Tunisian border.
They have also made two attempts to seize the LNA’s strategic al-Watiya airbase, but have been repelled, and have moved towards the LNA’s main northwestern stronghold of Tarhouna.
An LNA military source said late on Saturday that the fighting was the fiercest so far. Eastern forces briefly took some ground in Abu Salim.
Tripoli residents described the bombardment as the worst so far after weeks of fighting as the GNA attempts to end Haftar’s campaign to seize the capital and push his forces out of artillery range.
Mitiga, the only functioning airport in the Libyan capital, was targeted by rockets for a second day after shelling on Saturday destroyed fuel tanks and sprayed shrapnel across a passenger jet being readied for take off.
The U.N. Libya mission condemned what it called “indiscriminate attacks”, which it said were mostly attributable to pro-LNA forces. It said last month that the LNA was responsible for four fifths of civilian deaths in the first quarter of 2020.
Turkey said on Sunday it would regard Haftar’s forces as “legitimate targets” if attacks on its interests continued.
Water pressure in Tripoli was already starting to decline on Sunday afternoon after the Great Man-Made River Project, the main water utility, said one of its power stations in the south had been stormed by armed men.
Ahmed al-Deeb, head of its western region committee, said the men had switched off the electricity because of a shortage of cooking gas and a lack of cash in local banks, and that tribal elders were negotiating with them to restore power.
The state-run National Oil Corporation said last week it was carrying out work to supply cooking gas from the country’s main Sharara oil field.
Turkey warns Hafter that his elements could become a legitimate target if he continues to target its interests in Libya
By Sami Zaptia.
Libya Herald, London, 11 May 2020:
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry yesterday warned that Hafter’s elements could be considered legitimate targets if they target Turkish diplomatic missions and interests in Libya.
The statement comes after missiles, attributed widely both locally and internationally to Hafter’s forces, landed near both the Italian and Turkish embassies in Tripoli on the night of 7 May.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry statement referred to Hafter as the ‘‘warlord’’ and ‘‘putschist’’, and his forces as ‘‘illegitimate’’. It described his actions as ‘‘war crimes’’, ‘‘atrocities’’ and ‘‘massacres’’. It said countries supporting Hafter share responsibility for the ‘‘atrocity, chaos and instability’’ Libya has drifted into.
It concluded by saying that Turkey will continue to support the legitimate Libyan government (in Tripoli).
Putting the Turkish statement into context, it must be recalled that the internationally recognized Libyan government in Tripoli had made a request for military help from the Turkish government in February this year.
It had signed two separate and controversial Memorandums of Understanding with Turkey on 27 November. The first was on military cooperation and the second was on the maritime boundaries of countries in the Eastern Mediterranean. The latter, controversially, allowed Turkey the right to drill for oil and gas in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Following the military cooperation deal, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey would consider sending troops to Libya if the Serraj government made such a demand. The Turkish Parliament approved a bill on 2 January.
The troops would aid the Tripoli government fighting against the forces led by Khalifa Hafter. In theory, the Turkish parliamentary approval allows for the deployment of non-combatant troops to act as advisers and trainers.
At the time, the Whitehouse had reported that U.S. President Trump warned Erdogan in a phone call against ‘‘foreign interference’’ in Libya.
It will be recalled that Khalifa Hafter’s forces launched an attack on Tripoli on 4 April 2019 on the pretext of freeing it from ‘‘terrorists, Islamists and militias’’.
But it must also be recalled that Hafter receives or had received financial, political and military support from several countries, including, UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Syria and France.
Another point to bear in mind is that Hafter was officially appointed as commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) by the still (and only) internationally recognized Libyan parliament based in eastern Libya, the House of Representatives (HoR).
On 4 January this year, the HoR reacted to Turkish parliamentary approval of the Turkish-Libyan MoU by cutting relations with Turkey, annulled the Libya -Turkish security and military agreement, withdrawing recognition of the (2015 Skhirat) Libyan Political Agreement and its resultant and internationally recognized Tripoli-based government (GNA) led by Faiez Serraj. It further called on the international community to likewise withdraw their recognition of the GNA.
It further referred Faiez Serraj, his Foreign Minister, Mohamed Siala, his Interior Minister, Fathi Bashagha and ‘‘all those who contributed to bringing colonialism to our country’’ to justice on charges of high treason.
It voted to authorize Khalifa Hafter’s LNA to ‘‘disrupt airports, ports and land ports under the control of (Tripoli) militias’’
The HoR session did involve about 50 members, which is thought not to constitute a quorum.
On a related note, in its recent briefing, the US State Department said that both Hafter and the Tripoli government are using Syria/Turkish mercenaries. The Turkish mercenaries are Syrians of Turkish ethnicity.
Here is the statement if full Turkish Foreign Ministry statement:
The illegitimate militia forces led by warlord Haftar in Libya have recently increased their indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure, particularly in Tripoli. Just on 9 May 2020, the elements affiliated with Haftar launched more than 100 missiles along with heavy artillery fire on civilian neighbourhoods in the city centre of Tripoli.
These attacks targeting diplomatic missions including our Embassy in Tripoli, Mitiga International Airport, civilian aircrafts prepared for departure and other civilian infrastructure, which resulted in civilian casualties and injuries, constitute war crimes. In this context, we reemphasize that we will consider Haftar’s elements as legitimate targets in case they target our diplomatic missions and interests in Libya.
It is unacceptable for the United Nations to still remain inactive in the face of this atrocity. The international community bears a collective responsibility to stop putschist Haftar, who massacres his own people irrespective of child, woman or the elderly in this holy month of Ramadan and pandemic period.
It should not be forgotten that those countries providing military, financial and political support to Haftar share responsibility for the atrocity suffered by the Libyan people, and the chaos and instability the country is drifted into.
Turkey will continue to support the legitimate government and institutions of Libya for the protection of the friendly and brotherly Libyan people.
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