War­lord bat­tles gov­ern­ment for con­trol of Tripoli air­port

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - NATION & WORLD -

MISURATA, Libya — A rene­gade mili­tia seek­ing to storm its way into Libya’s cap­i­tal bat­tled for con­trol of the in­ter­na­tional air­port Satur­day in a show­down that threat­ened to spill into bloody ur­ban com­bat in the streets of Tripoli.

Fight­ers loyal to war­lord Khal­ifa Hifter said they had over­run the air­port on the south­ern edge of the city. But forces for Libya’s U.N.backed gov­ern­ment mounted a coun­ter­at­tack — aided by re­in­force­ments flow­ing into the city — and it re­mained un­clear which side held the air­field by night­fall.

The air­port has been closed since it suf­fered wide­spread dam­age dur­ing bat­tles be­tween ri­val groups in 2014. But it would be a sym­bolic blow to the gov­ern­ment if the site fell to Hifter, who could use it as a key stag­ing ground for fur­ther ad­vances.

Hifter’s mili­tia is aligned with a sep­a­rate ad­min­is­tra­tion based in east­ern Libya. The coun­try, rich in oil and gas re­serves, has been split into ri­val re­gions for years as the United Na­tions and oth­ers try to ham­mer out a peace deal and set a road map for elec­tions.

Hifter’s offensive could usher in the most sig­nif­i­cant es­ca­la­tion of vi­o­lence since the top­pling of Libyan dic­ta­tor Moam­mar Gaddafi in 2011. Hifter was a gen­eral in Gaddafi’s army but de­fected and spent years liv­ing in north­ern Vir­ginia. He re­turned to Libya to take part in the revo­lu­tion against Gaddafi’s rule.

Hun­dreds of truck­loads of fight­ers from dif­fer­ent mili­tias left the city of Misurata on Satur­day, head­ing to Tripoli to help fend off Hifter’s forces, said mili­tia sources and res­i­dents of Misurata, about 120 miles east of the cap­i­tal. In Ger­many: For­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama says he wants to sup­port young lead­ers in Europe and elsewhere who are try­ing to tackle prob­lems such as cli­mate change and in­equal­ity.

Obama told a town hall meet­ing Satur­day in Ber­lin that men­tor­ing ac­tivists through his foun­da­tion may help en­cour­age “mil­lions of peo­ple who are work­ing on the val­ues and causes that we so deeply be­lieve in.” He said de­spite Europe’s wealth, so­cial achieve­ments and decades of peace, “we also know that pow­er­ful forces are work­ing to re­verse many of th­ese trends.”

The for­mer pres­i­dent sug­gested that fos­ter­ing rea­soned de­bate on­line should be a key task to keep pol­i­tics from go­ing in a neg­a­tive di­rec­tion.

SAKIS MITROLIDIS/GETTY-AFP

to Greek po­lice af­ter clashes Satur­day out­side a refugee camp in Diavata, a Thes­sa­loniki sub­urb. Of­fi­cials say the demon­stra­tions were trig­gered by false re­ports on so­cial me­dia that re­stric­tions on travel to north­ern Europe had been lifted.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.