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Tripoli Airport Battle: Libya Militia Offers Shelling Truce

Armed groups battling for control of Libya's main airport could be ready for a truce after days of shelling that has damaged the terminal and planes.
Image: Flames and smoke billowing from an airplane at the Tripoli international airport in the Libyan capital
Flames and smoke billowing from an airplane at the Tripoli international airport in the Libyan capital on July 16, 2014. Tripoli international airport came under rocket fire Wednesday for a fourth straight day, in attacks aimed at ousting anti-Islamist fighters who control the facility, a Libyan security official said. Islamist militias have since Sunday unleashed dozens of rockets at Tripoli airport, damaging around a dozen planes and closing down Libya's main air link with the outside world. MAHMUD TURKIA / AFP - Getty Images

TRIPOLI - A militia battling a rival armed group over control of Libya’s main airport is ready for a peaceful solution after five days of heavy fighting, a spokesman said after another day of shelling hit the terminal building. A deal would be a huge relief for Libyan citizens who were stunned after two armed groups turned Tripoli International Airport into a battlefield.

The conflict is fuelling worries that Libya is on the point of turning into a failed state where a weak central government is powerless to control militias that helped oust Muammar Gaddafi in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 but now defy state authority. "There is an agreement between the conflict parties on a ceasefire and to hand over the airport to a committee tasked by the prime minister (to find a peaceful solution)," said Mahmoud al-Hatwish, spokesman for the town council of Zintan. The conflict has pitted fighters from Zintan in the northwest, who have controlled the airport since the ousting of Gaddafi, against armed groups from Misrata, a western coastal town. Days of fighting has already damaged at least 20 civilian planes belonging to Libyan carriers.



- Reuters