Libya’s Tripoli International Airport has been captured by Islamist-led militias called Fajr Libya, also known as Libyan Dawn, following a five-week siege.
The violence triggered by the Libyan elections saw Islamist parties on the losing side. However, the airport’s capture is being seen as a victory of Islamist elements over Tripoli.
Local residents reported sounds of jets followed by explosions hours after the militias declared that they had captured the airport, which was previously under the control of pro-government militias.
The attack was denounced by Libya’s official parliament, which has branded the group as a terrorist organisation. It is also announcing a state of war against the group, which leaves Libya with two governments; one in Tripoli and another in the east of the country.
According to The Guardian newspaper, Libyan Dawn representatives are trying to strengthen their hold on the capital by rounding up government sympathisers and people from Zintan, whose militia defended the airport before the siege.
Following continued unrest in the country, it has been reported that Rome is working with the US, France and other nearby states to launch precautionary exercises. Other countries, such as Algeria, are also taking precautions by deploying air defence missiles on its border. Egypt and Tunisia have already banned flights from west Libya airports.
Sources report that military intervention in Libya, either by France or within NATO coalition, looks highly unlikely. France had already evacuated the remaining French nationals from Libya on 29 July.
The political unrest in the country started in 2011, when militias joined forces to fight against Muammar Gaddafi, who had been in power for more than 40 years. However, the militias turned on each other after his death, which led to a steady decline in the country’s political situation.