Expolsions, air strikes hit Libyan capital in escalated violence

Libyan capital Tripoli was shook by explosions and air strikes Saturday night local time as an escalation of days of offensive by eastern forces held by the internationally recognized government.

According to Tripoli residents an aircraft was cited circling above for about ten minutes and opened multiple fire after making humming sound.

Soon after midnight the aircraft was again heard and heavy explosion shook the ground. It triggered heavy anti aircraft fire. It is not clear whether it was unmanned drone or an aircraft.

If a drone strike is confirmed it would mean a more sophisticated warfare. Until now the Libyan National Army (LNA) of General Khalifa Haftar has used ageing Soviet-made jets which were in the air force of Muammar Gaddafi, who was toppled in 2011.

Residents also confirmed one of the many missiles hit a military camp of forces loyal to Tripoli in the Sabaa district.

Authorities had to shut down the only functioning airport, which is in Misrata, about 200 km east of Tripoli, city with population of about 2.5 million residents.

According to Tripoli residents an aircraft was cited circling above for about ten minutes and opened multiple fire after making humming sound.

Two weeks ago the LNA started offensive to breach southern defenses of the government. In past Egypt and UAE supported Haftar and since 2014 both the countries have provided the military with helicopters, aircraft and other equipment.

One of the reports in 2017 revealed UAE built an air base too for the LNA in Al Khadim in eastern Libya to help Haftar gain upper hand in the eight-year conflict of the country.

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Paul Linus