Six military-grade Grad rockets were fired at strategic Mitiga airport, leading to diversion of air traffic, according to officials, who blamed the attack on warlord Khalifa Haftar's illegal militia.
Rocket fire forced the suspension for hours of all flights into and out of Tripoli's sole functioning airport on Wednesday, only nine days after it reopened following a truce, Libya's embattled UN-recognised government said.
Mitiga airport had reopened after the truce in nine months of fighting for control of the capital between the Government of National Accord (GNA) and illegal militia led by warlord Khalifa Haftar based in the east.
Six military-grade Grad rockets targeted the airport in what GNA forces spokesman Mohammed Gnunu branded a "flagrant threat" to the safety of air traffic and a "new violation" of the ceasefire.
He said the rockets were fired by the "militia" of the "war criminal Haftar", referring to rogue military commander Haftar that have been battling to take the capital.
Airport management said flights would be suspended, before announcing a few hours later that they had resumed.
A security official said 11 mortar, artillery, missile strikes were carried out at the airport but no damage was caused to facilities or workers there.
A Libyan Airlines flight from Tunis was forced to divert to Libya's third city Misrata, 200 kilometres east of the capital.
Despite repeated appeals from UN envoy Ghassan Salame, Mitiga has been the target of several air raids and rocket strikes since Haftar's forces launched their offensive last April.
Located east of the capital, Mitiga is a former military airbase used by civilian traffic since Tripoli international airport was heavily damaged in fighting in 2014.
In pictures: Haftar's militia carry out 11 strikes on Libya's Mitiga airport, officials say pic.twitter.com/sT4yGcb4Cw— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) January 22, 2020
Haftar obstacle to peace deal
Meanwhile, Turkey said on Wednesday warlord Haftar is the only obstacle to a peace deal for the North African country, defending Ankara's cooperation with Moscow to end conflicts in Libya and Syria.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told the World Economic Forum in Davos that Ankara was working with Russia in both Syria and Libya since Moscow was a key actor and attempts to find progress with Europe had failed.
"Together with Russia – unfortunately, we could not manage this with our EU partners, as with Syria – we spent some efforts and there has been a ceasefire," said Cavusoglu.
"Then we got together in Berlin and we committed there to a sustainable truce and ceasefire. Sarraj did. But Haftar did not make any announcement, as he did not sign the joint statement in Moscow."
"This is the only problem," he said.
Libya warlord Khalifa Haftar attends ceasefire talks in multiple cities but also attacks UN-backed government in Tripoli. TRT World's Hasan Abdullah has more on what's emboldening Haftar pic.twitter.com/5QAJwRTGA3— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) January 22, 2020
Haftar avoids signing draft deal
Since the ousting and death of ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: one in eastern Libya supported mainly by France, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, and the GNA in Tripoli, which enjoys UN and international recognition.
On April 4, Haftar, who commands militia based in eastern Libya, launched an offensive to capture the capital Tripoli from GNA forces.
Ankara and Libya's GNA signed on November 27 two separate pacts, one on military cooperation and the other on maritime boundaries of countries in the eastern Mediterranean.
A peace conference in Berlin this month agreed on a new push for peace – but without the two protagonists meeting – and Haftar also did not sign onto a ceasefire deal when both were in Moscow.