By Ajnadin Mustafa.
Tripoli, 22 August 2014:
Unidentified aircraft have this morning again bombed Operation Dawn positions in Tripoli in a reprise of . . .[restrict]Monday’s attacks. Fifteeen people are reported to have been killed and 30 wounded in the raids which happened at around 5 am. This time, it was buildings on the Airport Road belonging to Waha Oil Company that were hit. They are said to have been housing weaponry and vehicles belonging to Operation Dawn forces.
Also reported hit was the Wadi Al-Rabie compound of the Man-Made River company which has been used by one of the Misratan militias as its operations base. It had been earlier struck in Monday’s raids.
Today’s raids are seen as a response to the capture by Operation Dawn forces yesterday of the Waha Oil buildings and the area around, including the Interior Ministry buildings on the other side of the Airport Road as well as the neighbouring Hay Akwakh and Hay Zahur residential areas. The Interior Ministry buildings were until now held by Zintanis and the two districts by local forces.
The latter had been subject to constant shelling over recent days, forcing most residents to flee.
According to one of the few remaining residents in the area, yesterday’s successful attack was carried out by Tripoli forces of Operation Dawn; there were no Misratans involved, the person who did not want to be named, told the Libya Herald. He said the Tripoli forces included members of the Ghnaiwa Brigade from Abu Sleem as well as of the Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade under the control of Haithem Tajouri.
As yet there is no indication who did the airstrikes. As with Monday’s raids against Wadi Rabie and Gasr Ben Gashir, they appear to have involved highly effective precision bombing.
In Monday’s case, this caused analysts to dismiss claims by retired General Khalifa Hafter that it had been carried out by Libyan airforce warplanes under his command. A number of informed sources, including US ambassador Deborah Jones, also noted that Libyan aircraft did not have the capacity for such precision bombing or of flying from eastern Libyan bases without refueling.
Claims by the Libyan Revolutionaries Operation Room and Operation Dawn that Monday’s attackers had flown from Wattayah airbase near the western border, controlled by the Zintanis, likewise appear wide of the mark as the airbase is reported to have remained unusable since NATO forces bombed its runway during the revolution.
Sources in Malta, where Air Traffic Control can monitor Libyan airspace, refused to reveal what their screens showed on Monday at the time of the first strike.
Today, a member of the Misratan Military Council has been quoted accusing the Egyptian Air Force of carrying out the Airport Road attack, claiming that a plane was spotted on the radar accompanied by an air fuel tanker.
The Eygptians had already denied responsibility for Monday’s raid, as had the Italians, British, French and Americans. So did the Algerians. Yesterday Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra said that “Algeria that had previously repeatedly denied military solutions and still today affirms this position.” He added that based on Algeria’s “bitter experience” there could be no military solution to Libya’s problems. These had to have a political resolution.
Despite the official denial, there is growing conjecture in Algiers that Algerian Su24 warplanes have been involved the Tripoli attacks. The independent daily Al-Watan today maintained that Egyptian planes were incapable of mounting an attack on Tripoli since they did not have inflight refueling capacity. Al-Watan indicated that in such circumstances, there was a very clear probability that the warplanes have been Algerian.
Another Algerian newspaper El Khabar on Thursday made a similar inference saying that Monday’s attacks on Gasr Ben Gashir may have been targeting the Algerian Islamist leader Mukhtar Belmukhtar who, the Algerian government says, was responsible for the January 2013 assault on the Al Amenas gas facility in which 40 oil workers were killed. Also thought to have been present in Tripoli at the time, it said, was Abu Iyad, the leader of Ansar Al-Sharia in Tunisia. It is understood that both men have since left the country. [/restrict]