Rival factions in Libyan capital battle for control of main airport

The New York Times reports: Rival militias in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, fought for control of the city’s main airport on Sunday, leaving at least six people dead and causing the cancellation of international flights, officials said.

The fighting, with rockets, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, was some of the fiercest in the capital in months and an urgent reminder of the chaos prevailing in the country: Nearly three years after the death of Libya’s dictator, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the fighters who rebelled against him remained locked in a struggle for control of territory, resources and critical facilities, sidelining the central government.

The United Nations mission in Libya, which began to withdraw staff members last week because of security concerns, accelerated that withdrawal on Sunday, said a staff member who was not authorized to speak to the news media. A United Nations spokesman did not immediately return a call.

The deadliest of Libya’s recent fighting has occurred in the eastern city of Benghazi, where troops loyal to an army general named Khalifa Hifter are battling other armed militias, as part of what Mr. Hifter says is a national campaign to eradicate Libya’s powerful Islamist politicians and fighters. The clashes have opened new divisions across the country and aggravated Libya’s violence. [Continue reading…]

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