Libyan government forces launched military operation to liberate Watiya air base, located southwest of the capital Tripoli and controlled by warlord Khalifa Haftar's militias.

Libyan army troops clash against warlord Khalifa Haftar's militia as Operation Peace Storm continues in the Salahaddin region south of the capital, Tripoli, Libya, May 2, 2020.
Libyan army troops clash against warlord Khalifa Haftar's militia as Operation Peace Storm continues in the Salahaddin region south of the capital, Tripoli, Libya, May 2, 2020. (AA)

Scores of militiamen aligned with warlord Khalifa Haftar were killed in attacks targeting Al-Watiya air base, a Libyan military spokesman said on Saturday.

In a statement, Muhammed Kununu said warplanes of the Libyan government carried out air strikes on Friday on Haftar's forces in the vicinity of the base.

"The attacks resulted in killing and injuring 70 members of Haftar's terrorist militia," the spokesman said.

Libyan government forces launched a military operation early Tuesday to liberate al Watiya air base, which is located southwest of the capital Tripoli and controlled by Haftar's militias.

Al-Watiya is regarded as a key air base in the country and is second to Mitiga Airport. It was captured in August 2014 by Haftar who used it as his headquarters for operations against the UN recognised government.

Meanwhile, two civilians were killed in rocket attacks by Haftar's militia on the Mitiga International Airport in the capital Tripoli, the Libyan government said on Saturday.

Haftar's forces fired several rounds of rockets at residential neighbourhoods in the vicinity of Mitiga airport, the government-led Operation Volcano of Rage said in a statement.

The statement said several other people were injured in the attacks, but without giving an exact number.

The Libyan government has been under attack by Haftar’s forces since April 2019, with more than 1,000 killed in the violence. It launched Operation Peace Storm on March 26 to counter attacks on the capital, where air operations are being periodically carried out against the base.

Following the ousting of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya's government was founded under a UN-led political deal in 2015.

Use of chemical weapons?

Former British Ambassador to Libya Peter Millet has called for an investigation into the use of banned chemical weapons in Libya.

His tenure in the Libyan capital Tripoli between 2015 and 2018 had witnessed the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, lead the elimination of chemical weapons using diplomacy and the removal of category two materials to Germany for destruction.

The announcement comes as Libyan Interior Minister Fathi Bashaghe's claimed warlord Khalifa Haftar and his forces used chemical weapons against government forces on the Salah Al-Deen front, south of Tripoli.

The accusations were later confirmed by Canadian journalist Amru Salaheddine, who while visiting field hospitals, found several soldiers with symptoms similar to those of epilepsy, usually caused by nerve gas.

In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency, Millet, who has served in several positions in the British diplomatic service since 1974, said the reports of using chemical weapons were dangerous and amounted to a war crime.

Millet requested European nations to reassess their judgment of supporting Haftar's campaign, which he described as a power grab. He also called for international sanctions against Haftar.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies