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Libya

Libya – Obama Admits His Attrocities, Says It Is ‘Worst Mistake’ Of His Presidency

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US President Barack Obama has said failing to prepare for the aftermath of the ousting of Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi was the worst mistake of his presidency.

Mr Obama was answering a series of questions on the highs and lows of his time in office on Fox News.

He said, however, that intervening in Libya had been “the right thing to do”.

The US and other countries carried out strikes designed to protect civilians during the 2011 uprising.

But after the former Libyan leader was killed, Libya plunged into chaos with militias taking over and two rival parliaments and governments forming.

How Obama learned the limits of US power

So-called Islamic State (IS) gained a foothold, and Libya became a major departure point for migrants trying to reach Europe.

A UN-backed national unity government arrived in the capital Tripoli earlier this month but is waiting to take charge.

The leader of the faction ruling western Libya has threatened to prosecute any of his ministers who co-operate with the UN-backed administration, contradicting an earlier announcement the ministers would stand down.


President Obama gave the brief but revealing answer speaking to Chris Wallace:

CW: Worst mistake?

Obama: Probably failing to plan for the day after, what I think was the right thing to do, in intervening in Libya.


It is not the first time President Obama has expressed regret over Libya. He told the Atlantic magazine last month the operation went as well as he had hoped, but Libya was now “a mess”.

In that interview, he also criticised France and the UK, in particular saying British Prime Minister David Cameron became “distracted” after the intervention.

A man walks between debris following clashes in Libya

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Rival militias have been fighting for control in Libya

It was a rare rebuke for a close ally and one which BBC correspondents at the time said angered Downing Street.

President Obama told Fox that his biggest accomplishment in office was “saving the economy from the great depression”.

He said the best day of his presidency was when he passed the healthcare reforms. The worst, he said, was responding to the mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school.

Mr Obama discussed his legacy in a BBC interview last year, saying his failure to pass tighter gun control laws was the biggest frustration of his presidency.


Libya timeline

Muammar Gaddafi pictured in Tripoli in 2011

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Col Gaddafi was killed during the 2011 popular uprising

 

February 2011: Protests against Colonel Gaddafi’s regime erupt in Libya

March 2011: UN Security Council authorises a no-fly zone over Libya and air strikes to protect civilians

October 2011: Gaddafi is captured and killed by rebel fighters

2012: Splits emerge as the transitional government struggle to rein in local militias

September 2012: The US ambassador and three other Americans are killed when Islamist militants storm the consulate in eastern Benghazi

June 2014: Disputed elections are held. Two governments are formed: one in the capital Tripoli, the other UN-backed administration in eastern Torbruk

January 2015: The UN announces a new interim government but it is yet to take charge


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Libya

Libyan Al-Ahli Benghazi defender signs for Egypt’s Ittihad of Alexandria

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Libyan Al-Ahli Benghazi defender signs for Ittihad of Alexandria. [Photo: Internet]

Egypt’s Premier League side Ittihad of Alexandria have officially confirmed the signing of Libyan defender Ahmed Shalaby on a three-year deal as part of their summer transfer market campaign.

Shalaby has joined Ittihad on a permanent transfer coming from Libya’s Al-Ahli Benghazi.

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Al-Ahli Benghazi was coached by current coach of the Alexandria-based team Talaat Youssef.

Shalaby has a handful amount of games with the Libyan national team and is expected to be a beneficial addition to the team.

The 25-year-old is the latest addition to the Ittihad team who had an important campaign of reinforcements for the team.

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Libya’s GNA forces seize strategic district from Haftar’s forces in south Tripoli

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Fighting rages on in Tripoli. [Photo: Internet]

The Libyan Army’s Burkan Al-Ghadab Operation  (Volcano of Rage Operation) forces have seized full control of the district of Sebea in southern Tripoli after a day-long deadly fighting with Khalifa Haftar’s forces. 

The forces under the command of the Government of National Accord (GNA) started their attack on Haftar’s forces in Sebea on early Wednesday, clashing with them for over 10 hours before they had control over the district.

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Local media reported the GNA forces as they paraded their presence at the roundabout of Sebea, its neighborhoods, hospital and aviation institute.

The media also said that the fighting saw airstrikes carried out by both sides leading to tens of casualties.

Sebea is very strategic for Haftar’s forces positioned in southern Tripoli, like Qasir Benghashir district, and with the GNA forces seizing it, Haftar’s forces have lost another main supply line of arms, fuel and ammunition just like that of Gharyan over a month ago.

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Libya

UN envoy says only political solution can end Libya’s crisis

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Ghassan Salame. [Photo: Libyan Express]

The Head of the UN support mission in Libya, Ghassan Salame, has praised Malta’s efforts in bringing to light the Libyan crisis in the EU.

Salame who was addressing a press conference with Foreign Minister Carmelo Abela, insisted that the Libyan crisis can only be resolved through a political process, Malta Today reported.

Asked what role General Khalifa Haftar should play in a solution to the Libyan crisis, Salame reiterated that only once a political course has been initiated that the question could be answered, it added.

Salame also said that the first step towards a situation of peace in Libya lies in having the current UN-backed truce turned into a permanent ceasefire.

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The UN representative also said that in order for Libya to move forward, the solutions must be spearheaded by Libyans themselves.

“It is Libyans that must decide, no one should force anyone to sit down by force, but past experience in our work has shown that this can be achieved,” he stated.

Salame also called upon the international community to refrain from being passive.

“We must have an international community which properly enforces laws and regulations, when dealing with Libya,” he said.

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Libya

100 stranded migrants off Italian coast finally allwoed to disembark on Lampedusa

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Libyan coastguard intercepts Italy-bound migrant ship after ‘sea duel’ [Photo: The Local Italy]

A boat carrying about 250 people, mainly from Eritrea and other sub-Saharan African and Arab countries, capsized last month off the coast near Al-Khoms, east of the capital Tripoli.

Libyan coast guards and local fishermen rescued 134 people while about 115 were missing, bringing the death toll of Mediterranean migrants to over 600 this year.

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That put 2019 on course to be the sixth year in a row with more than 1,000 deaths, UNHCR spokesman Charlie Yaxley said at the time.

Meanwhile, nearly 100 migrants who had been stranded on the ‘Open Arms’ rescue ship off the coast of Lampedusa disembarked on the Italian island last night, ending a prolonged stand-off between the Spanish charity operating the boat and the government in Rome.

The migrants, mainly from Africa, were removed from the boat after an Italian prosecutor ordered the seizure of the ship and the evacuation of the people on board.

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Former Trump lobbyists to represent Libyan Investment Authority in Washington

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Libyan Investment Authority logo

The New York lobbyists Brad Gerstman and David Schwartz, who once counted President Donald Trump as one of their clients, have registered as foreign agents to represent Libya’s sovereign wealth fund, Politico has reported.

It added on Tuesday that Gerstman, Schwartz and another partner at their firm, Shai Franklin, will work to “change the sanctions” affecting the Libyan Investment Authority, according to a Justice Department disclosure.

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“They’ll also reach out to Congress, the State Department and the Treasury Department as well as the media and the “business and banking sectors,” according to the disclosure.” Politico said.

According to Politico, Gerstman and Schwartz are already familiar with Libya. They opened a Washington office of their firm, Gotham Government Relations & Communications, after Trump’s election and lobbied the White House last year on behalf of a company looking to persuade Trump to back its plan to send private security forces to Libya to facilitate oil exploration, according to Gerstman.

“The company, MHRT International Oilfield Services, paid Gotham $200,000 but the plan ultimately went nowhere. Once the insurgency started in Libya earlier this year, the “possibility of American intervention became unrealistic,” Gerstman wrote in a text message to PI. Gotham is no longer working for MHRT.” It indicated.

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Libya’s NOC provides Murzuq with humanitarian aids

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Libya’s NOC sends assistance to Murzuq residents. [Photo: NOC]

In cooperation with the southern branch of the Libyan Humanitarian Relief Agency and the Municipal Council of Wadi Utba, the National Oil Corporation (NOC)’s sustainable development department has dispatched a relief shipment to the region of Murzuq in response to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the area.

“Food and relief supplies arrived in Murzuq on Sunday, August 18, 2019, and were distributed to the many families displaced from their homes by the ongoing conflict.” The NOC said in a statement on Tuesday.

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It added that in coordination with relevant authorities, the NOC is doing its best to meet the needs of those currently displaced and help alleviate the difficult circumstances in the city.

Murzuq has seen fierce clashes between Al-Ahaly backed up by Khalifa Haftar’s ground and air forces and the Tubu tribespeople, who have managed now after over 20 days of fighting to control the city as Haftar’s loyal forces withdrew from the town.

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Libya

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announces resignation

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The Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte. [Photo: Internet]

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has announced his resignation. Conte’s move preempted a confidence vote that had been expected to take place on Tuesday, 12 days after Interior Minister Matteo Salvini called for such a motion.

Before announcing his resignation, Conte said Salvini’s decision “has major consequences on the country and its economy.” “This government ends here,” Conte said.

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The prime minister’s resignation will not automatically trigger a snap election. It is now up to President Sergio Mattarella to decide on the way forward.

Salvini’s far-right League is calling for new elections, a request backed by Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and the far-right Brothers of Italy party.

Meanwhile, the 5Stars — the League’s current coalition partners — are reported to be in talks with the center-left Democratic Party to potentially form a new government. Such a tie-up would effectively oust Salvini’s party from government.

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Libya

US warns against targeting civilian airports in Libya

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New US ambassador to Libya Richard Norland. [Photo: Internet]

The U.S. Embassy in Libya expressed on Monday concern over attacks on civilian airports in western Libya, as the armed conflict between Libya’s UN-backed government and the rival eastern-based Khalifa  Haftar’s forces continues.

“In my introductory conversations with leaders on all sides … I stressed that the United States sees great risk in the escalation of attacks on civilian airports, and if a civilian airliner were struck, this would be catastrophic,” U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Richard Norland, said.

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The United Nations Support Mission in Libya on Thursday denounced increasing attacks on airports in western Libya.

Haftar’s Air Force jets have struck Mitiga Airport and Zuwara Airport in western Libya more than once in the last few days, not to mention the tens of times they have struck Mitiga Airport in Tripoli since April 04, when Tripoli fighting started.

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US State Secretary and Egypt’s Foreign Minister stress need for political solution in Libya

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US and Egypt’s State Secretaries. [Photo: Internet]

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday expressed American concerns over the prolonged conflict in Libya in a phone call with his Egyptian counterpart, and they agreed on the need for a political solution, the State Department said.

Pompeo also discussed with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry cooperation to tackle the Islamic State and al-Qaida militant groups, the department said in a statement.

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“The Secretary and the Foreign Minister shared concern over prolonged violence and instability in Libya, and agreed on the need to achieve a political solution to the conflict,” it said.

Egypt, along with the United Arab Emirates, is a supporter of Khalifa Haftar, whose forces have been trying to take Tripoli from forces allied with the internationally recognized government since April 04.

The United Nations envoy for Libya, Ghassan Salame, last month called for a truce in the country and warned that an influx of weapons from foreign supporters, in violation of an arms embargo, was fueling the conflict.

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Libya

Spain offers to take over 100 migrants stranded on an NGO’s ship off Italy’s coast

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A migrant is rescued from the mediteranean sea by a member of Proactiva Open Arms NGO. [Photo: Internet]

A charity that operates a rescue ship carrying more than a hundred migrants off the coast of Italy on Sunday said that it could not accept an offer from Spain to dock in Algeciras, citing an emergency situation on board.

The migrants, most of whom are African, were picked up by the Open Arms boat off the coast of Libya and have been waiting to disembark on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa.

“We do not accept Spain as a port to go because we are in a state of extreme humanitarian emergency. What they need is to be disembarked now,” Open Arms’ spokeswoman said, France 24 said.

“It is unthinkable to navigate for six days; that is what it would takes for us to arrive to Algeciras.”

‘We are in a state of humanitarian emergency,’ Open Arms’s Laura Lanuza told France 24.

After the charity rejected the plan to go to Algeciras, in southern Spain, the Spanish government offered the captain of the boat the option to dock at the nearest Spanish port, but the prime minister’s office said the government had not received an answer, Reuters reported on Sunday evening.

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An Open Arms spokeswoman confirmed to Reuters that the boat still had not answered Spain’s proposal.

France has offered to take in 40 people from the Open Arms, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner told AFP on Sunday.

At least four migrants, wearing life vests, jumped into the sea to try to swim to the Italian island of Lampedusa. Open Arms founder Oscar Camps tweeted a video of the attempt, saying: “We have been warning for days, desperation has its limits.”

Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini on Saturday reluctantly authorised 27 migrant children rescued at sea to disembark from the charity vessel anchored in limbo off Lampedusa for days.

In a letter, Salvini told Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte he could authorise the “alleged” minors to leave the Open Arms ship despite it being “divergent to my orientation”.

However, the remaining 105 adults and two accompanied children must stay on board in what the charity Proactiva Open Arms said were “untenable” conditions.

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Sudan’s ex-president stands trial for corruption in Khartoum

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Sudan’s ex-president Omar Al-Bashir. [Photo: Internet]

Sudan’s former President Omar Al-Bashir, who ruled the country for 30 years, has arrived in a Khartoum court for the start of his trial on corruption charges.

The deposed leader faces charges related to “possessing foreign currency, corruption and receiving gifts illegally”.

On Saturday, protest leaders and the military signed a final power-sharing deal, paving the way for a transition to a civilian-led government.

Al-Bashir seized power in a military coup on June 30, 1989, and stayed in office until April 11, 2019, when he was overthrown and arrested by the armed forces.

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His downfall was brought about by thousands of Sudanese from all walks of life who took to the streets for four months to demand an end to the 75-year-old’s rule.

Prosecutors have also opened other criminal investigations against Al-Bashir, including on charges of money laundering, financing “terrorism” and “ordering the killing of protesters” – the latter is an offence that carries the death penalty in Sudan.

Before Monday’s trial, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa Joan Nyanyuki said in a statement: “While this trial is a positive step towards accountability for some of his alleged crimes, he remains wanted for heinous crimes committed against the Sudanese people.”

Over the course of his time in office, Al-Bashir led Sudan through several conflicts and is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged atrocities in Darfur.

Al-Bashir was also the last man to lead a united Sudan, prior to South Sudan’s independence in 2011.

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South Protection Force seizes control of Murzuq in southern Libya

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Murzuq has been seeing outrageous tribal fighting. [Photo: Internet]

The commander of South Protection Force of the Government of National Accord (GNA) Hassan Mousa told reporters on Sunday that the force had seized full control of Murzuq in southern Libya after pushing out Khalifa Haftar’s forces following two weeks of fatal clashes between Al-Ahali tribespeople backed by Haftar and Tubu tribespeople.

The South Protection Force started after its control to secure the town’s entries and the people who have been subject to many attacks by Haftar-backed militias.

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Meanwhile, a Tubu tribal source said that on Saturday, Haftar’s warplanes struck different areas in Murzuq leaving behind several people killed and wounded from both sides of the clashes.

Clashes have been ongoing since Haftar’s forces entered Murzuq in last February as they fueled the tribal and ethnic tensions between Arab and Tubu tribespeople living in the town.

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Libya’s parallel state oil firm in Benghazi selling oil illicitly to UAE, report reveals

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The Togo-flagged tanker was intercepted by the Libyan coast guard [Photo: Internet – Archive]

The International Campaign to Boycott the UAE (ICBU) has accused the UAE of intervening in supporting internal fighting and supporting  Khalifa Haftar for greed in Libya’s oil wealth, where the Benghazi Oil Corporation (BPC) has revealed a sale contract with the Dubai-registered Solaco company, which includes the export of 2 million barrels of crude oil from the port of Marsa Al-Haqqa, which is controlled by Hifter forces to the UAE and sold illegally.

The international campaign said that the UAE is famous for buying and selling smuggled oil from Libya, Iraq, Iran and Yemen and forging all documents for easy marketing and sale, adding that the sale of smuggled oil illegally is a violation of Security Council resolutions.

ICBU stressed that the UAE supports the chaos and war in Libya to continue to obtain its oil and non-oil wealth and take advantage of the differences, wars and destruction to ensure the continued flow of oil and money to the UAE.

The UAE has always played roles in its intervention in the destruction of countries and peoples and destabilization of security and stability such as what is happening in Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and the financing of terrorism, all to keep its economy from collapse and its economic superiority by looting the wealth and wealth of other peoples.

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ICBU called for a boycott of the UAE’s oil and all UAE products and companies because they are all stolen through wars and chaos sponsored by the UAE, whether in the Middle East or Africa, and the United Arab Emirates continues to violate human rights, especially women’s rights and equality before the law.

The boycott campaign calls on the international community to intervene immediately to stop human rights violations in the UAE and to oblige the UAE authorities to respect human rights laws. The campaign also called on all countries that respect human rights laws and the free world to boycott the UAE because they violate human rights on a daily basis, whether in the war in Yemen or with neighboring countries or their citizens or residents.

The boycott campaign said it was launched in light of the endless human rights abuses practiced by the UAE, as well as the war crimes it committed in Yemen and abuses of workers’ rights, as well as the UAE being the center of modern slavery.

The UAE is today one of the leading countries in human trafficking and is a major supporter of terrorist groups in Syria and other parts of the Middle East, it reported.

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Libya

Libyan coastguards rescue 278 migrants on four dinghies

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Migrants intercepted by Libyan  coastguards. [Photo: AFP/Getty Images – Archive]

The Libyan coast guard said it had rescued 278 migrants on four different boats in recent days.

The migrants, including 18 women and two children, had been trying to make their way to Europe.

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Libya’s coast guard on Saturday said it had intercepted four boats carrying 278 migrants headed for Europe off the country’s Mediterranean coast earlier in the week.

The spokesman Ayoub Qassim said the migrants, including 18 women and two children, were intercepted on Tuesday in separate rescue operations off the coast near the capital, Tripoli.

The operations took place during  Eid al-Adha, which ended on Wednesday.

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Turkey backs peaceful settlement of Libya’s crisis, Foreign Minister says

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Turkey’s Foreign Minister and Libyan counterpart Mohammed Sayala meet in Sudan. [Photo: Internet]

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu voiced on Saturday his country’s support for a peaceful settlement of the Libyan crisis, Anadolu Agency reported.

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Cavusoglu emphasized the importance of a peaceful settlement of the dispute in Libya, adding that “international community should display a united and principled stance to stop the clashes in Libya,” according to a statement on his Twitter after he met with his Libyan counterpart Mohammed Sayala in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan.

The Turkish and Libyan FMs visited Sudan to attend the signing ceremony of a power-sharing deal between rival parties there.

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Libya’s Army ground-to-air missiles shoot down Haftar’s UAE drone above Misurata

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Wing Loong drone for the UAE used by Haftar’s forces shot down near Misurata. [Photo: Burkan Al-Ghadab Operation – Archive]

The Libyan Army defense forces located in Misurata shot down overnight a drone for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) used by Khalifa Haftar’s forces to strike the city’s Air College and airport, local sources have reported. 

The senior commander at Burkan Al-Ghadab Operation under the command of Government of National Accord (GNA) Al-Taher bin Ghariba said the ground-to-air missiles they fired shot a UAE drone down above the city of Misurata nearby its Air College.

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Many pro-Haftar media outlets and activists confirmed the downing of the drone, but never mentioned it was a UAE drone.

The drone has struck Misurata few times before since the start of Tripoli offensive by Haftar’s forces.

This is the second drone the GNA forces have shot down over Misurata after the Chinese Wing Loong of last month.

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UN mission confirms there is no military presence in Libya’s Zuwara Airport

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Zuwara Airport has been attacked twice by Haftar’s forces in two days. [Photo: Internet]

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) dispatched Saturday an assessment mission to the airport of Zuwara, which was targeted by airstrikes by Khalifa Haftar’s forces.

“After reviewing the airport’s facilities and all the adjacent buildings, the assessment mission was able to confirm that neither military assets nor military infrastructure were observed at Zuwara Airport.” UNSMIL confirmed, denying the claims of Haftar’s forces.

The UNSMIL said there is no indication of military use of Zuwara Airport, which is a civilian facility.

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“The Mission renews its condemnation of the attacks conducted by LNA forces against Zuwara airport, which caused serious damage to the airport’s infrastructure, including to the runway.” Ot said in a statement.

UNSMIL reiterated that attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructures constitute a grave violation of international humanitarian and human rights law.

UNSMIL said it will share the information and evidence gathered during today’s visit to Zuwara Airport with the Security Council, the Panel of Experts, and other relevant international bodies, as is the case with assessments conducted by UNSMIL in the aftermath of other such incidents.

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Libya reopens Sabha airport in southern region

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Sabha Airport in southern Libya reopened. [Photo: Internet]

Libya reopened on Friday its airport in the main southern city of Sabha – in the southern region – which had been closed since January 2014 due to security problems, local media said.

According to the sources speaking to local media outlets in Libya, a commercial flight landed from the main eastern city of Benghazi in Sabha airport.

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Southern Libya has been gripped by worse insecurity and chaos than the rest of the country since the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

In Murzuq town to the west of Sebha, at least 90 people have been killed and 6,500 displaced since fighting broke out between different tribesmen in August, according to the United Nations.

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Leaving Libya in outrageous war, Prime Minister Al-Sirraj shops chocolate in London

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The Head of the Presidential Council in Libya has been criticized for his chocolate shopping during war. [Photo: Libyan Express]

A footage has surfaced on social media showing the Head of the Presidential Council and Prime Minister of the Government of National Accord (GNA) Fayez Al-Sirraj shopping chocolate at Carpo’s in London.

This footage was said to be during Eid Al-Adha celebration – just a couple of days ago – at a time when Al-Sirraj’s government struck a humanitarian truce with Khalifa Haftar’s forces under the auspices of the UNSMIL.

Several Libyans commented on the footage showing Al-Sirraj all dressed up and walking out of Carpo’s with a bag of chocolates.

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Some found it offensive and a bit rude for him to live on luxury during a time when his government must be doing everything possible for the people of war-torn Libya to regain security and peace.

Others said he was not supposed to be in London during the truce time, rather he was supposed to be in Tripoli trying to find solutions to the suffering of the people – either families of the victims, those who lost their properties or those who got displaced by the fighting.

While, several Libyans commented by saying that Al-Sirraj looked very secure and was walking around without bodyguards or an armored vehicle, which must remind him that he should be in Libya securing such a safe and secure life for all its citizens.

Others said he was just having a time out with his family outside the war zone at home!

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Libya’s Presidential Council condemns attacks on western region’s airports

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Mitiga Airport in Tripoli was targeted many times over the last four months by Haftar’s forces. [Photo: Internet]

Libya’s Presidential Council (PC) condemned on Friday the attacks on airports in western Libya, as the armed conflict between the Government of National Accord and the eastern-based Khalifa Haftar’s forces continues.

“The Presidential Council of the Government of National Accord condemns the cowardly airstrikes on civilian airports in the western region by Haftar’s militias, which damaged the infrastructure of the airports, frightened civilians, and disrupted flights,” the PC said in a statement.

The PC called on the UNSMIL to “take a clearer stand against the attacks.”

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Spokesman of Khalifa Haftar’s forces, Ahmad Al-Mismari, said on Friday that their air force had targeted the airport of the western city of Zuwara, some 120 km west of the capital Tripoli, and destroyed a hanger used to store drones.

Burkan Al-Ghadab operation of the GNA in Tripoli has denied any military presence in both Mitiga and Zuwara Airport, especially that the Zuwara airport is being used solely by the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).

UNSMIL on Thursday denounced increasing attacks on civilian airports in western Libya.

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