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Libya Islamist militias 'seize Tripoli airport'

Published on Aug 24, 2014 6:27 AM
 

TRIPOLI (AFP) - Islamist fighters in the Fajr Libya (Libyan Dawn) coalition said on Saturday they have captured Tripoli's battered international airport after many days of clashes with nationalist militiamen.

The claim followed a setback the previous night when a warplane raided Islamist positions, killing 13 fighters, a Fajr Libya spokesman said.

If independent sources confirm the airport has changed hands, it would be a major defeat for the nationalist fighters from Zintan west of Tripoli who have held the airport since the fall of long-time dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

A statement shown on screen on An-Nabaa television, regarded as close to the Islamists, said: "Fajr Libya announces that it totally controls Tripoli international airport." Later a spokesman for the Islamist coalition, partly comprising men from Misrata, east of Tripoli, said its fighters "have entered the airport and are mopping up pockets of resistance".

Smoke billows from buildings during clashes between Libyan security forces and armed Islamist groups in the eastern coastal city of Benghazi on Aug 23, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
 
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