TRIPOLI/BENGHAZI- Forces from the Libyan city of Misrata on Saturday seized Tripoli's main airport after more than a month of fighting with a rival group.
Pictures on social media purportedly showed Misrata fighters celebrating at the terminal building and standing on civilian planes in what, if confirmed, would be a big development in the battle to control the capital. Arab channels Jazeera and Al-Arabiya also said Misrata forces were controlling the airport. Heavy shelling could be heard in other parts of the city. War planes had earlier struck Misrata positions in Tripoli in an attack claimed by renegade general Khalifa Haftar. The raids killed 10 people and wounded dozens.
The fighting is the worst since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. In the Nato-backed campaign to oust Gaddafi, fighters from the western region of Zintan and Misrata, east of Tripoli, were comrades-in-arms. But they later fell out and this year, have turned parts of Tripoli into a battlefield.
Haftar launched a campaign against Islamists in the eastern city of Benghazi in May and threw his weight behind the Zintan fighters. In Saturday's fighting, residents heard explosions early in the morning near the airport, where the two groups have been fighting for control for more than a month. Western countries and Egypt, worried about Libya becoming a failed state and safe haven for Islamist militants, have denied any involvement. The Libyan government has said it does not know who is responsible for the air attacks.