Drone strike hits airport in Libya’s Misrata

Published October 5, 2019, 11:30 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Agence France-Presse

A drone strike Saturday targeting an airport in western Libya wounded one person, forces loyal to the country’s unity government said, while also reportedly causing flights to be suspended.

The loyalist forces alleged that the strike on Misrata airport, 200 kilometers (120 miles) from the capital Tripoli, was carried out by rival fighters answering to strongman Khalifa Haftar.

“Emirati drones which support the war criminal Haftar targeted Misrata international airport,” forces loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA) said on Facebook.

They said an airport worker was hospitalized, while a source at the municipality of Misrata, a region controlled by pro-GNA forces, said two planes on the tarmac were damaged.

Flights were briefly suspended to allow for safety checks, this source told AFP, asking not to be named.

Misrata has operated as the last functioning airport in western Libya for just over a month, as the capital’s Mitiga facility was shut after repeated airstrikes by Haftar’s forces.

The strongman’s forces had accused the GNA of using Mitiga for military purposes.

Haftar’s forces issued no claim of responsibility for Saturday’s drone attack on Misrata, which has been receiving diversions from Mitiga due to the latter’s closure.

Since April 4, when Haftar launched an offensive to capture Tripoli, seat of the UN-recognised GNA, frontlines have barely shifted.

A drone war has so far failed to break the stalemate.

Experts say Haftar has procured Chinese-made Wing Loong drones from his main backer, the United Arab Emirates.

His rivals have turned to Ankara, which is increasingly open about its support for the GNA, to equip themselves with Turkish Bayraktar drones.