Mitiga Airport reopens

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Libya’s internationally recognised government reopened Mitiga, Tripoli’s only functioning airport, after a two month closure and flights will resume in two weeks, the transportation minister said.

The airport was shut since September 1 after being repeatedly struck by artillery fire and air strikes blamed on eastern forces of Khalifa Haftar, which have been trying to take the capital since April.

Libya has been engulfed in a power struggle since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011.

“The return of flights depends on carriers and airport management. It needs time to re-schedule flights, possibly a week to 10 days or two weeks,” Transport Minister Milad Matoq told reporters.

The airport’s main terminals are under maintenance, a Reuters reporter at the airport said.

Mitiga, east of central Tripoli, has come under repeated attack in recent months, forcing it to halt flights.

The LNA said it was targeting an operations room for Turkish drones at the facility. Turkey backs the Tripoli government, while Egypt and the United Arab Emirates support Haftar.

“The airport is free of military manifestations,” Matoq said.

“We had to make sure all parts of the airport, the runway and arrival and departure terminals were free of military manifestations,” said UN Libya envoy, Ghassan Salame, adding there was no excuse to target the airport.

“What we visited today are civilian places. We made sure there are no weapons.”

The UN plans to open its own terminal at Mitiga. It will be used by diplomatic missions and voluntary flights as well as UN aircraft.

“Our presence will add to the civil character to the airport,” Salame said.