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Libyan government reopens Tripoli airport despite threat of shelling

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Libya’s UN-backed government said on Thursday that it would reopen Tripoli’s only operational airport, a day after rival forces based in the east of the troubled country threatened to target aircraft using the facility.

On Wednesday, the Government of National Accord (GNA) backed by the UN halted traffic at Mitiga airport in central Tripoli, accusing the rival self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Gen. Khalifa Haftar of shelling the airport.

Flights have since been diverted to Misrata airport outside Tripoli.

An LNA spokesman later said Haftar’s forces had enforced a no-fly zone on Tripoli, including Mitiga, and threatened to hit aircraft using it.

The Tripoli government said it was resuming air traffic at Mitiga and condemned the rivals’ threats as an “intentional war crime.”

“The GNA reminds the international community of its responsibilities towards international agreements pertaining to the safety of civil aviation, airports and all civil installations,’’ it noted.

In recent weeks, there have been flurries of global efforts aimed at halting a years-long conflict in Libya.

On Jan. 12, a ceasefire called by Russia and Turkey went into effect in and around Tripoli, the target of a months-long campaign by Haftar’s forces.

However, both sides have since traded accusations of breaches.

On Sunday, international leaders met in Berlin and vowed to uphold a UN arms embargo and end military support for Libya’s warring factions.

Libya has been in turmoil since the 2011 overthrow of Dictator Moamer Gaddafi and has become a battleground for rival proxy forces.

Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Emmanuel Yashim

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