Mystery planes bombard Tripoli for a third night in a week
For a third night unidentified aircraft struck targets in Tripoli. The attacks came just hours after the Misrata militia claim they have finally gained control of the Tripoli International AIrport from the rival Zintan brigades.
The Misrata militia are part of a larger umbrella group called Libya Shield and also Libya Dawn, both pro-Islamist.The Zintan brigades are allied with General Khalifa Haftar and his Operation Dignity. Although part of the Libyan Air Force has defected to ally itself with the general, Libya is not believed to have planes capable of launching the attacks. Most of Libya's air force was destroyed by western attacks during the Libyan uprising that overthrew Gadaffi. According to Reuters as reported in Al Jazeera, Tripoli residents heard the jets just at dawn followed by explosions, but there were no details of what had been hit available.
General Haftar, who has past links to the CIA, has claimed responsibility for the earlier attacks and says they are a joint action with the international community. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry issued a statement: "Egypt categorically denies press reports that Egyptian warplanes bombarded positions held by armed Islamist militias in the Libyan capital." The Misrata militia that was attacked said that Egypt and the UAE provided the jets. The group reported attacks around Tripoli airport killed 13 people. Both Egypt and the UAE oppose Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood who in turn support the Misrata militia and other Islamist groups.
An umbrella group of Islamists took control of Haftar's main base in Benghazi and also ousted Special Forces loyal to Haftar who were providing security for the city. Haftar was left only in control of an airfield on the outskirts. The newly elected parliament was scheduled to meet in Benghazi after the outgoing government voted to move the parliament there from Tripoli. However, the parliament met instead in the far eastern city of Tobruk, for security reasons and no doubt as well to avoid areas where Islamists would have a great deal of influence rather than Haftar and his allies.
The UN and most foreign embassies have evacuated most or all of their staff and the embassies have closed. Most airlines have also stopped flying into Libya as the number of usable airports dwindles. The Tripoli International Airport is in ruins with many planes destroyed or damaged. It has been closed since clashes first started back on July 13th. The control tower had been previously damaged but now after the latest bombing the main terminal is reported to have been destroyed by fire.
The outgoing General National Congress, questioned the legitimacy of the newly elected parliament after it decided to meet in Tobruk against the decision of the GNC that is should he held in Benghazi. Now, spokesperson for the GNC Omar Ahmidan announced:
"The General National Congress will hold an emergency meeting in Tripoli to save the country's sovereignty,"Islamist groups claim they have no confidence in the new parliament situated far off in the eastern city of Tobruk.
The parliament in Tobruk seems to lack any power. It has asked for international help and pleaded with the warring militia to agree to a ceasefire. The Zintan brigades at Haftar's request had occupied and burned the parliament buildings in Tripoli and kidnapped a number of legislators and officials. Now Haftar and his allies want to ensure that a parliament said to have a majority of anti-Islamist members is not subject to a similar attack by pro-Islamist groups.
That the identity of the planes attacking Tripoli remains a mystery after three nights of raids is itself a mystery. Intelligence agencies and governments must know where these planes took off from and would be able to track their flight there and back. Why is it that no country seems to be making any sort of outcry at what is a terrorist attack on a capital city. What is much more important is to find out who was the alleged executioner of journalist James Foley. Can you imagine the press coverage and outrage if unidentified planes bombed even Ottawa let alone Washington or London? .