March 3, 2020 / 10:46 PM / a month ago

Libya shifts flights from Tripoli to Misrata amid heavier bombing

TUNIS (Reuters) - The only functioning airport in the Libyan capital said late on Tuesday that it was shifting all flights to the town of Misrata due to shelling in the area following an escalation in fighting over recent days.

Rocket fire and shelling towards the airport ramped up late last week as a United Nations effort to bring the warring sides together in Geneva failed to make headway. On Monday, the U.N. special envoy Ghassan Salame said he was resigning.

The latest bout in Libya’s violence since the 2011 uprising that overthrew longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi began last year, when the eastern-based military commander Khalifa Haftar launched a push to capture the capital.

Haftar’s forces are backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, while the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) is supported by Turkey, which sent forces this year.

Mitiga airport has been closed by rocket fire repeatedly in recent days and flights were suspended for much of Tuesday, with a military source in the eastern forces saying Turkish installations there were being targeted.

On Sunday, the GNA’s Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha told Reuters it would soon shift from defence to attack in order to push Haftar’s forces further from the capital.

Reporting By Angus McDowall in Tunis and Ayman al-Warfalli in Benghazi; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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