MAHMUD TURKIA | AFP | Getty Images
Forces loyal to Libya’s UN-backed unity government arrive in Tajura, a coastal suburb of the Libyan capital Tripoli, on April 6, 2019, through their base in Misrata.
Several air strikes along with explosions shook the Libyan capital Tripoli overnight, residents said, in an escalation of a two-week offensive by eastern forces on the city held by the internationally recognized government.
A Reuters reporter along with several residents said they saw an aircraft circling for more than 10 minutes over the capital late on Saturday, along with which which made a humming sound before opening fire on several areas.
An aircraft was heard again after midnight, circling for more than ten minutes before a heavy explosion shook the ground. which was not clear whether an aircraft or unmanned drone was behind the strike, which triggered heavy anti aircraft fire.
Residents had reported drone strikes in recent days, although there has been no confirmation along with explosions heard within the city center This specific time were louder than in previous days.
Residents counted several missile strikes, one of which apparently hit a military camp of forces loyal to Tripoli within the Sabaa district within the south of the capital, scene of the heaviest fighting between the rival forces.
Authorities closed Tripoli’s only functioning airport, cutting air links to a city of an estimated 2.5 million residents. The airport in Misrata, a city 0 km to the east, remained open.
The Libyan National Army (LNA) force loyal to commander Khalifa Haftar began an offensive two weeks ago although has been unable to breach the government’s southern defenses.
If a drone strike was confirmed This specific could point to more sophisticated warfare. The LNA has so far mainly used ageing Soviet-made jets through the air force of Muammar Gaddafi, toppled in 2011, lacking precision firepower along with helicopters, according to residents along with military sources.
within the past the United Arab Emirates along with Egypt have supported Haftar with air strikes during campaigns to take eastern Libya. Both countries flew air strikes on Tripoli in 2014 during a different conflict to help a Haftar-allied force, U.S. officials said at the time.
Since 2014 the UAE along with Egypt have provided the LNA with military equipment such as aircraft along with helicopters, helping Haftar gain the upper hand in Libya’s eight-year conflict, U.N. reports have established.
The UAE even built an air base in Al Khadim in eastern Libya, one such report said in 2017.
The air strikes, which were also filmed by residents in video posted online, came after a day of heavy clashes in southern districts, with shelling audible within the city center.