Tripoli government condemns air strikes


Libya’s internationally recognised government condemned air strikes in Tripoli and the southern desert which it said caused civilian casualties, most of them women and children.

The Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) blamed its eastern-based rivals for the strikes. It did not say how many people were killed and injured, but military forces aligned with the GNA said 14 people died.

The eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) denied carrying out the strikes, blaming “indiscriminate bombardment” by their opponents.

The strikes mark the latest escalation in an air campaign as the LNA presses its military offensive on the outskirts of Tripoli and seeks to retain control over desert areas in the south.

Libya has been divided since 2014 between shifting rival political and military factions in Tripoli and the east. The LNA has been waging a military campaign since April to take control of Tripoli.

The strikes hit Al-Sawani, south-west of Tripoli on Sunday, and Umm al-Aranib 765km) away, last week.

Emergency workers confirmed three children were killed and a fourth injured in the Al-Sawani strike, which damaged houses and vehicles.

In Umm al-Aranib locals protested against the strikes on Monday, burning tyres and closing schools and roads, residents said.

After the LNA offensive in April stalled, both sides were increasingly dependent on air strikes carried out with foreign support by fighter jets and drones.

The United Nations Libya mission, UNSMIL, said in a statement it was “following with concern the intensification of air strikes in civilian areas”.

“UNSMIL stresses indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure constitute a grave violation to international humanitarian and human rights,” it said.

Umm al-Aranib is east of El Feel oilfield, where GNA-aligned forces briefly took control last week before being beaten back by air strikes.