In today’s bizarre news, at least six are dead in an airstrike that took out a small arms depot and other targets. The problem is, no one really knows who is responsible.
The New York Times reports:
Unidentified warplanes on Monday bombed a small arms depot and other locations in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, that are controlled by Islamist-aligned militias, suggesting that a foreign state had intervened in the escalating battle for control of the city.
At least six people were killed, The Associated Press reported. The origin of the planes remained a mystery.
The airstrikes were beyond the capacity of the limited Libyan Air Force, and Libyan authorities said the planes had come from a foreign state. The United States, France, Italy and Egypt all denied responsibility.
“The United States was not involved whatsoever in these events,” said Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman.
But the targets indicated the intent of the strikes. Although the month-old conflict in Tripoli is largely a contest for power between rival coalitions of cities and tribes, one side is considered to be allied with the forces of political Islam, while the other portrays itself as fighting an Islamist takeover. The strikes on Monday all hit the Islamist side.
Some renegade Libyan general claims he was responsible for the airstrikes, but as the NYT pointed out, the strikes were, “beyond the capacity of the limited Libyan Air Force.” It’s also not uncommon for would-be bad guys to pop up and claim violent tragedies are part of their own criminal master-mind.
Renegade General Khalifa Haftar’s air force was responsible for strikes on Islamist-leaning militia in Tripoli on Monday, one of his commanders said, after weeks of fighting for the capital in Libya’s worst violence since Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011.
Fighters from Misrata – east of Tripoli – have been battling militia from the western Zintan region for weeks and have thrown the North African state into anarchy. Zintanis and Misratis worked together to topple Gaddafi but have fallen out since.
The fighting hitherto has been limited to ground action with artillery and rockets. None of the militias had been thought to own warplanes, while the central government has only an outdated air force, badly in need of repair.
Libyan television news channels speculated that the country’s neighbours might be behind the overnight air strikes, which Tripoli official Mohammed al-Kriwi said had killed about five people and wounded as many as 30.
A U.S. official and an Egyptian security source, both speaking on condition of anonymity, said their countries had not been involved. A NATO official said: “There are no fighter jets under NATO command involved in operations over Libya”.
NATO air strikes helped rebels overthrow Gaddafi.
The air attacks escalate a struggle between Islamist and more moderate forces as well as between militias from different cities all vying for power in the oil producer. Central government has no control of either Tripoli or Benghazi.
The case of the anonymous airstrikes remains open. For now…DONATE
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.