First Published: 2014-07-18

Libya warring militias agree ceasefire at Tripoli airport
Libyan FM asks UN to dispatch experts to train Libyan forces to ensure they can protect vital sites.
Middle East Online

By Imed LAMLOUM - TRIPOLI

Serious damages

Powerful militias battling for the Libyan capital's airport have agreed a ceasefire, Tripoli said Friday, after the government sought UN help to stop the country from becoming a "failed state".

Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdelaziz asked the UN Security Council to dispatch experts to train Libya's defence and police forces to ensure they can protect oil fields, airports and other vital sites.

The call came amid a surge of violence in the country with clashes between rival militias sparking fears of all-out civil war.

Tripoli's mayor and leaders of battling militia said overnight that a truce had been agreed and that control of the international airport would be handed over to neutral forces.

The airport has been closed since fighting erupted on Sunday, when Islamist gunmen from the city of Misrata launched an attack on the facility, which has for the past three years been held by liberal, anti-Islamist fighters from Zintan, southwest of the capital.

Mokhtar Lakhdar, a commander for the Zintan forces, said that a truce had been agreed under the authority of the city's government council.

Dozens of rockets have been fired at the airport, badly damaging planes as well as the main terminal, but Lakhdar confirmed this had halted Thursday night.

Ex-rebel fighters from Zintan and Misrata, east of Tripoli, both played a key role in the NATO-backed uprising that toppled dictator Moamer Gathafi in 2011.

But they have become fierce rivals in the deadly power struggle between armed groups that followed and which is now wracking the North African country.

Ahmed Hadeia, a spokesman for the rival Misrata fighters, said the ceasefire was "only around the airport" and did not include other sites controlled by the Zintan forces.

Misrata leaders said in a statement read out Thursday on television that the fighting at the airport was a "battle of revolutionaries... against followers of the old regime" of Kadhafi.

- 'Far-reaching consequences' -

The clashes revived fears of the conflict spreading inside Tripoli itself, with official results still awaited from a June 25 election to the parliament previously dominated by Islamists.

"Should Libya become a failed state, kidnapped by radical groups and warlords, the consequences would be far-reaching and perhaps beyond control," Abdelaziz warned the Security Council as he requested UN help.

"We are not asking for military intervention," he said. "We are asking for a team from the UN specialised in the field of security."

Libya could become a "hub for attracting extremists," feeding radicalism and the arms flow in the region and further afield in Syria, said Abdelaziz.

"Don't you think that such patterns that are indicative of heading toward a failed state would justify a stronger, more strategic engagement from the Security Council?"

In a statement, the 15-member Security Council said it condemned the recent violence in Libya and said it made "it even more difficult for the Libyan authorities to govern effectively".

The Council would ask UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to look at the Libyan request for aid and present "options," said Eugene-Richard Gasana, the Rwandan chair of the UN body.

Last week, the United Nations evacuated its staff from Libya after the latest upsurge in fighting.

Abdelaziz said a new UN mission to help train the security forces would ensure Tripoli keeps control of vital oil revenue after militant groups seized oil terminals last year.

The blockades of the oil facilities that finally came to an end this month deprived Libya of more than $30 billion in revenue over 11 months, said the foreign minister.

 

Iraq forces take ISIS last positions in Fallujah

Jordan court charges 21 people with 'terrorism'

Iran conceals heated military standoff in Kurdish region

Sarraj says only united military can defeat ISIS in Libya

Iran cracks down on ‘Western culture’ of canine ownership

Dozens killed as clashes intensify in Yemen

Brexit vote lays bare depth of division across Britain

Young Britons vent anger at grey Brexit vote

Russia planes pound Aleppo as Syria regime forces closes in

Car bomb kills four civilians in Libya's Benghazi

US-backed Syria fighters edge further into ISIS border hub

Tunisia flaunts seaside security to bring back tourists

Britain and EU: A fraught divorce

Libya govt. forces repel ISIS counterattack in Sirte

Oil slides on British referendum result

Crashed EgyptAir black boxes to go to France for repairs

5,000 migrants rescued from rubber dinghies in Mediterranean

Britain votes to break away from EU, PM resigns

Turkey acquits British academic over 'terror propaganda' charges

24 jailed in Bahrain for forming IS cell

Iraq commander says forces control over 80% of Fallujah

Israel sentences 4 Palestinians to life

Turkey in new quest to patch up with regional foes

Defiant Bahrain moves to dissolve opposition bloc

Kurdish-Arab forces push into IS Syria bastion of Manbij

Yemen govt says rebels must withdraw before any transition

Turkey confirms new accession talks with EU

Saudi suspect found dead after gunfight in Shiite town

Suspended Kuwait sues IOC for damages

Erdogan lashes out at EU treatment of Turkey

UN Chief, Saudi prince discuss situation in Yemen

Turkey blocks visit of German delegation to Incirlik air base

Trump goes on blistering offensive against Clinton

EU negotiators endorse new border force proposal

Head of EU parliament hopes to arrange meeting of Israeli, Palestinian leaders

Turkish prosecutors demand 14 years for activists

Final push for votes as EU leaders warn over Brexit

Egypt government appeals court block on islands’ transfer to Saudis

Heat, long fasting days take their toll on Cairo residents

Assad names Imad Khamis as new Prime Minister

Turkey wants Britain to stay in EU 'under any circumstances'

EU to open new membership talks with Turkey

Turkey arrests 3 IS suspects over 'LGBT rally plot'

Yemen rebels say consensus president crucial for peace deal

Fallujah 'almost cleared' of ISIS jihadists