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Militiamen Burn Tripoli Airport After Seizing It from Government-Allied Forces

After nearly four weeks of fighting, Misrata militia take control of Libya's main airport.

by Liz Fields
Aug 24 2014, 6:10pm

Image via Getty

Members of the Islamist-allied Misrata militia have reportedly burned Tripoli International Airport shortly after capturing it from Libya's nationalist Zintan fighters following a month-long battle for control.

Libya's new parliament, the House of Representatives, has labeled the Misrata militia and allies as "terrorist organizations" and condemned the seizing of the airport, according to the BBC.

Cell phone footage taken after the battle shows thick smoke rising from the mostly destroyed airport where abandoned airplanes still line the runway.

Mysterious Airstrikes Targeting Islamist Militia Kill 15 in Tripoli. Read more here.

Militias from the Libyan city of Misrata and their Islamic allies celebrated the capture of Tripoli's International Airport on August 23 after nearly a month of fighting against Libya's nationalist Zintan fighters. 

Following the capture of Libya's main airport, a Misrata militia spokesman, Umar Humaydan, called for the reassembly of the country's former Islamist-dominated parliament in order to "save the country's sovereignty."

The call also came amid reports that 15 Misrata fighters had been killed and 30 wounded after two airstrikes targeting several militia positions in Tripoli were conducted by unidentified warplanes on Saturday.

Members of the Misrata militia, also dubbed the "Dawn of Libya," have posted photos and video to social media of fighters celebrating amid the wreckage of burnt planes and deserted airport terminals.

In the following video, Misrata fighters can be seen storming through the airport's now-desolate departure lounge following the 'liberation'.

The powerful Zintan militia, loosely allied to former army chief Gen. Khalifa Haftar, had been in control of the airport for the three years.

Libya has seen a sharp escalation of violence recently as rival militia, which helped the government overthrow Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, battle for survival and economic and political dominance in the resulting power vacuum.

The embattled Libyan armed forces and police have so far been powerless to rein control of the militia, which are split along deep and longstanding sectarian lines.

Hundreds of Libyans have been killed and thousands more displaced as the crisis has intensified in the past few weeks. Most Western embassies have since shuttered and their staff and security personnel have been evacuated.

US Evacuates Libya Embassy Amid Spiraling Violence. Read More here.

Follow Liz Fields on Twitter: @lianzifields

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