Flights to resume at Libya capital's battle-scarred airport

Tripoli (AFP) –


Flights are to resume at Tripoli's Mitiga airport, closed for almost two months after being bombed multiple times in the ongoing battle for the Libyan capital, the unity government said on Tuesday.

Transport Minister Milad Maatoug announced "the reopening of airspace and resumption of air traffic" at Mitiga International Airport.

He added, however, that flights would not fully resume for another week or two, until the airport is "totally operational".

A few kilometres east of the capital, Mitiga is in an area controlled by the UN-recognised Government of National Accord, based in Tripoli.

The airport has been targeted by airstrikes and artillery fire in the conflict between pro-GNA forces and those loyal to east Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar, who launched an offensive to take Tripoli on April 4.

The former military airbase had been Tripoli's sole functioning airport until a rocket attack on September 1 that wounded four people.

Flights had since been diverted to Misrata, 200 kilometres (120 miles) to the east.

Haftar's forces, which accuse the GNA of using Mitiga for military purposes, say they are targeting "Turkish drones" being launched from the airport to attack their troops in southern Tripoli.

United Nations special envoy Ghassan Salame said he was assured that Mitiga was not being used for military purposes and that "there is no excuse for it to be a military target".