By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli/Tunis, 22 November:
The operation to take Tripoli from Libya Dawn has began, Libyan army and Operation Dignity officials . . .[restrict]in Benghazi have declared.
Both Saqr Adam Geroushi,the head of Operation Dignity’s air force in Benghazi, and Mohamed Hejazi, spokesman for Operation Dignity, told the Libya Herald this afternoon that bombing raids carried out west of Tripoli yesterday and today were the first stage of the planned move on the capital.
“We have sent planes to the west. We have an airbase there,” said Geroushi, adding the aircraft would, if necessary, be used to attack Mitiga and Misrata airports if they did not cease operations as ordered. He also said that the ports at Tripoli, Misrata and Ras Hilal would also be targeted. In a move that suggests an attempt by the government to reach out to the Amazigh community, he added that Zuwara airport and port were exempted from the closure order and could continue to be used for civilian purposes. However, if it were discovered that arms were moving through Zuwara port or airport, they too would be targeted.
Geroushi would not give the location of the airport in the west. However an officer at the Zintan Operations Room told this newspaper yesterday that two fighter aircraft were based at the mountain town’s airstrip and were now in active service following the delivery of aviation fuel. They had bombed Bir Ghanem, Hosh Al-Seteen near Gharian and Bu Sheiba, he said.
This afternoon the same officer said that the aircraft today bombed Libya Dawn positions in Sorman, Janzour and Najila – claims that have not been confirmed. Nor have there been any reports so far about casualties.
The officer also said that a cargo plane with arms and equipment to be used against Libya Dawn had landed at Zintan. He further added that helicopters would arrive in the next couple of days as part of the operation to recapture Tripoli.
The Zintan officer appeared not to be particularly concerned that the Zintan airstrip or the aircraft might be hit by planes under the control of Libya Dawn. He claimed Libya Dawn and Misrata had no fighter planes, only training aircraft. These had been modified to carry bombs and had been used in a failed bombing raid against the airstrip earlier in the week, he said, but he was confident of air superiority. [/restrict]