Near misses for embassies in Tripoli


Shells landed near the Turkish and Italian embassies in central Tripoli in an apparent expansion of bombardment by eastern-based forces on a central district of the Libyan capital.

The eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) of Khalifa Haftar bombarded Tripoli for months as part of a year-long offensive to capture the city, causing four fifths of civilian deaths in the conflict this year, according to the UN.

At least 131 civilians were killed or injured in fighting in the first quarter of 2020, the UN said.

Turkish military support for the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) helped its forces push the LNA back from several areas, threatening to end Haftar’s campaign in western Libya.

The Turkish ambassador told Reuters a Grad missile struck the High Court building next to the embassy and another landed near the Foreign Ministry.

Italy’s Foreign Ministry said on Twitter the area near around the Italian ambassador’s residence was hit, causing at least two deaths. “Italy strongly condemns yet another attack by Haftar forces,” it said.

Shells landed around the city’s port, where the UN migration agency aborted an operation to disembark migrants rescued at sea.

The LNA military spokesman last week announced the start of a new air campaign and said strikes targeted an air base at Misrata.

Local authorities said blasts on Wednesday were caused by a storage problem with old munitions.

Pro-GNA forces reversed some losses with the help of Turkish drones and air defence systems, which stopped air strikes by the LNA and its allies. The LNA is supported by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia.

Wednesday’s Misrata blasts came after an attack by pro-GNA forces on al-Watiya air base, one of the LNA’s major strongholds in western Libya. Pro-GNA forces moved toward Tarhouna, another LNA bastion.

The UN Libya mission said in the first quarter of 2020, at least 131 civilians were killed or injured, a rise of 45% over the last quarter of 2019 as fighting escalated.
Ground fighting was the main cause of death and 80% were caused by forces affiliated to the LNA.