UNSMIL condemns attack on Mitiga airport – as Berlin truce and commitments falter

By Sami Zaptia.

London, 26 January 2020:

UNSMIL today condemned ‘‘in the strongest possible terms the attack against Mitiga Airport (today), by two grad missiles, which resulted in the injury of at least two civilians, and damage to the tarmac and a number of buildings including private and public property’’.

‪It reiterated that attacks against civilian targets, especially public facilities, represent a blatant violation of international humanitarian law, and that repeated attacks against Mitiga deprived two million residents in the capital of their only functioning airport.

The attack, blamed by the internationally recognized government in Tripoli on Khalifa Hafter’s forces, comes on the back of a statement yesterday in which UNSMIL said it deeply regretted the continued ‘‘blatant violations of the arms embargo’’ in Libya, ‘‘even after the commitments made in this regard by concerned countries during the International Conference on Libya in Berlin’’ held on 19 January 2020.

The ‘‘Berlin commitments’’ followed a 12 January truce agreed by the internationally recognized Libyan government based in Tripoli and the Khalifa Hafter-led Libyan National Army (LNA), which UNSMIL said had led to ‘‘remarked reduction of hostilities in Tripoli’’.

Attempting desperately to save the ‘‘Berlin commitments’’, UNSMIL called on the concerned countries to live up to their commitments, and unequivocally and fully respect and implement the arms embargo in Libya established by the UN Security Council Resolution 1970 (2011) and subsequent Resolutions.

It will also be recalled that last Thursday the internationally recognized Libyan government led by Faiez Serraj called on the international community to shoulder its responsibility in protecting Mitiga airport.

The call came after missiles were targeted towards the airport on Wednesday leading to its closure. The call by the Serraj administration also comes after Khalifa Hafter’s spokesperson, Ahmed Mesmari, announced that Tripoli and Mitiga airport were a ‘‘no-fly zone’’. He threatened any military or civilian aircraft flying over Tripoli with destruction.

The catalyst for this was ostensibly a drone that the Khalifa Hafter forces claim they had shot down after it had taken off from Mitiga. The forces defending Tripoli claimed that it was they who had shot the drone down which they claim belonged to the Hafter forces.

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