Libya's Islamist militias consolidate hold on Tripoli

Libya's Islamist militias consolidate hold on Tripoli

PanARMENIAN.Net - Libya's Islamist militias said Sunday, Aug 24, they have consolidated their hold on Tripoli and its international airport, driving out rival militias to the outskirts of the capital following a weekslong battle for control of the strategic hub, the Associated Press reports.

The umbrella group for Islamist militias calling itself Dawn of Libya said it has also taken hold of other locations in the capital controlled by the rival militias, drawing to a close one chapter in a prolonged confrontation between the Islamist-allied militia, largely from the city of Misrata, and the powerful militia from the western mountains of Zintan.

The fight has largely destroyed the airport and scarred the capital, prompting diplomats, foreign nationals and thousands of Libyans to flee.

The violence in Libya is rooted in the empowerment of militias after successive transitional governments since the 2011 ouster of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi depended on them to maintain order in the absence of a strong police force or a unified military.

A field commander of the Dawn of Libya militia said Sunday his forces are in control of Tripoli and adjacent cities, pushing back the rival Zintan forces some 90 kilometers (56 miles) south of the capital. It was not immediately possible to reach members of the Zintan militias.

After claiming control over the airport, Dawn of Libya called on the outgoing parliament to convene in the capital to take "the necessary measures to protect state sovereignty." On Sunday, the speaker of the outgoing parliament, Omar Hmeidan, said the body will convene until it hands over power to the newly elected deputies.

Further inflaming the situation, the newly elected parliament described the Dawn of Libya militias as "outlawed" and "terrorist groups" who fight to undermine the legitimacy of the state.

The newly elected parliament has been convening in Tobruk because of security concerns amid a growing lawlessness in the capital and Libya's second largest city of Benghazi.

Fresh clashes Saturday in Benghazi pitting forces loyal to renegade Gen. Khalifa Hifter against a group of Islamist militias called The Benghazi Revolutionary Shura Council left eight troops killed and 35 wounded, a health official said, according to the AP.

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