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Tipoli airport seized – Libya capital under Islamist control

Tripoli, Aug 25 (): The Islamist militias challenged openly the legitimacy of the new parliament saying they held Tripoli airport, dipping the rocky political changeover of Libya into fresh crisis on Sunday. Islamist militias also controlled an air defense base near the city’s international airport, a security official said.

The Tripoli airport, which is the largest airport of Libya, has been shut for nearly a month due to the fighting. The militia association in Libya has captured the international airport of the capital after a fight lasting nearly a month.

Fajr Libya (Operation Dawn), an alliance of Misrata and Islamist forces, captured Tripoli airport on Saturday in an aggressive fighting against pro-government paramilitaries after a 5-week siege that has tattered many parts of Tripoli. Television pictures from the place showed triumphant bearded militias shooting machine guns in the air, dancing on broken airliners and singing “Allah O Akbar” (“God is great”). On Sunday, they set the airport buildings on fire, seemingly planning to destroy rather than hold it.

The win, which acquires Islamist control on Tripoli, is a conclusion of the fighting held for weeks triggered by July elections, which the Islamist parties lost. Instead of accepting the result, the leaders of the Islamist groups blamed the new parliament of being controlled by the supporters of earlier dictator Muammar Gaddafi, and have pursued to reestablish the old national congress.

The recent weeks fighting in Tripoli has destroyed largely the chief international airport, which has been shut for over a month, and also has locked the Benina airport of Benghazi, as foreigners and diplomats have moved out of the country.

Libya is seeing its worst tremor of violence from the time when Muammar Gaddafi was over thrown in 2011. Several rebel groups, which helped overthrow the longtime dictator have since been transformed into powerful militias linked to the fighting political blocs of the country.