Libya Islamists Deploy Air Power Against Foes For First Time

Libya Islamists Deploy Air Power Against Foes For First Time
Benghazi port

AFRICANGLOBE – The “Dawn of Libya” Islamist militia on Tuesday carried out airstrikes – for the first time – on sites hosting forces loyal to Libya’s House of Representatives, which convenes in the eastern city of Tobruk.

“Dawn of Libya forces carried out several airstrikes against sites belonging to forces tasked with guarding petroleum facilities [and which are loyal to the House of Representatives] in the port towns of Sidra and Ras Lanuf,” Tarek Shnina, a Dawn of Libya commander, told reporters.

“The operation achieved its objectives, destroying targeted sites,” Shnina said.

Eyewitnesses in Ras Lanuf, meanwhile, told reporters that the airstrikes had targeted forces tasked with guarding petroleum facilities in the area.

Two assemblies currently vie for legislative authority in Libya: the House of Representatives and the General National Congress, which – even though its mandate ended in August – continues to convene in capital Tripoli.

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Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni

Tuesday’s airstrikes were confirmed by Ahmed al-Mesmari, a spokesman for forces loyal to the House of Representatives.

He rejected the assertion, however, that the raids had achieved their objectives.

“For the first time since clashes began, the anti-government Dawn of Libya forces carried out airstrikes on Libyan army sites in the eastern Bin Jawad region,” said Bashir Bozverh, who commands an army battalion loyal to the House of Representatives in the eastern town of Ajdabiya.

“The raids did not cause any casualties or material damage. The planes dropped their ordnance on an empty area after being attacked with anti-aircraft guns,” Bozverh said.

Libya has been dogged by violence and instability since the 2011 NATO-backed ouster and murder of long-ruling strongman Muammar Gaddafi.

In the more than three years since, rival militias have frequently locked horns, often bringing violence to the country’s main cities, including capital Tripoli.