Rebel commander Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) continued its attack on the military section at Tripoli airport on Thursday night. The Libyan capital has seen major infighting ever since Haftar launched an offensive to retake Tripoli from the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in April.
Thursday marked the second consecutive night of the LNA attack on the airport. The LNA claimed that it targeted a "Turkish plane," in a statement quoted by Al Jazeera.
While the LNA is backed by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), it has accused Turkey of supporting the GNA and its forces in Tripoli.
Air traffic had continued despite the attack on the first night. Libya has been largely divided into two factions ever since the death of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The LNA controls the eastern part of Libya, while the UN-backed GNA governs Libya's western region from Tripoli.
More than 90,000 people have been displaced ever since the fighting broke out, while over 500 people have lost their lives. The international community has urged for a peaceful resolution to the intense fighting which has ensued in the African nation.
General Khalifa Haftar has emerged as a key player in Libya's civil war, with his self-styled Libyan National Army seizing the country's main oil fields and export terminals for the rival government backing him in the east. A former officer in Libya's army, Haftar participated in the 1969 coup that ousted King Idris and brought Colonel Muammar Gadhafi to power. Although proclaimed to be the Libyan National Army, the force is comprised of military units, ex-police officers, tribal militias and locally-based armed groups.
Haftar has presented himself as a seasoned nationalist commander capable of taking on an array Islamist militias, some of which back the Tripoli-based government. But his past associations with Gadhafi's regime and the United States has made him an unpopular figure for some in Libya.
Haftar has said he wants to restore security, fight armed gangs and "terrorists," and has cultivated a reputation among foreign allies for combating Islamists despite the Salafist forces under his command. But detractors fear Haftar wants to rule Libya in a permanent state of dictatorship ― a Gadhafi 2.0. His recent attempt to take Tripoli was timed just before UN-backed peace talks aimed at finding a way towards a democratic centralized-government, forcing them to be postponed.
(With ANI inputs)