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Haftar forces bombard rivals after Libya airbase attack

By AFP - May 21,2017 - Last updated at May 21,2017

Members of the Libyan National Army, also known as the forces loyal to Marshal Khalifa Haftar, fire a tank during fighting against fighters in Benghazi’s Al Hout market area on Saturday (AFP photo)

BENGHAZI, Libya — Forces loyal to Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar have bombed rival forces in retaliation for a deadly attack on an airbase in the south of the country, media reported Sunday.

"Warplanes launched air strikes overnight Saturday as part of the Martyrs of Brak Al Shati operation," the LANA news agency said in reference to the airbase where at least 141 people, mostly forces loyal to Haftar, were killed on Thursday.

LANA, which is loyal to authorities based in eastern Libya, said MIG-23 jets carried out seven air strikes, targeting "terrorists in Hun and Jufra", two areas in southern Libya.

The agency, quoting Colonel Mohammad Al Manfour of the pro-Haftar Benina airbase in Benghazi, said "several weapons depots, vehicles and centres of operations" were destroyed.

On Thursday, members of the Third Force militia loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli attacked the base used by Haftar's self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA).

Pro-Haftar forces said on Friday the victims included civilians who worked at the Brak Al Shati Airbase or were in the nearby area, adding that summary executions took place.

LNA spokesman Ahmad Al Mesmari said the soldiers were returning from a military parade unarmed, and that most of them were executed. 

On Sunday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement forces aligned with the GNA “allegedly executed at least 30 captured soldiers”.

“The Government of National Accord should act on its promise to investigate allegations that its troops executed opposing forces who had already been rounded up,” said Eric Goldstein, Middle East and North Africa deputy director at HRW.

“The authorities need to send a strong message that such crimes will not be tolerated, which means that if the allegations are true, they should try those responsible,” Goldstein added.

UN Special Envoy Martin Kobler, the British ambassador to Libya, Peter Millet, and the European Union have denounced the assault.

On Friday, Kobler said he was “outraged by reports of significant numbers of fatalities, including civilians and by reports that summary executions may have taken place”. 

The unity government, the rival administration in eastern Libya and their respective backers are battling for influence in the North African country, which has been wracked by chaos since the fall of dictator Muammar Qadhafi in 2011.


The LNA does not recognise the authority of the GNA, and instead supports the rival authorities based in the east.

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