Fighters loyal to Libya’s Government of National Accord roll past damaged airliners on Thursday after capturing the last parts of Tripoli’s international airport from Benghazi-based insurgents. (Mahmud Turkia/AFP via Getty Images)

Libya’s UN-backed Government Captures International Airport

Forces aligned with Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) on Thursday captured the last areas of Tripoli’s international airport from fighters loyal to renegade general Khalifa Haftar. The facility has been idle since 2014, when fighting broke out among the factions that together had toppled dictator Muamar Gaddafi in 2011. Haftar’s self-styled, Benghazi-based Libyan National Army has in recent days been retreating from frontline positions it has occupied around the capital city since launching an offensive in April 2019, with the United Nations announcing this week that he had agreed to return to peace talks with the UN-backed GNA. As GNA-aligned forces retook the airport, its leader, Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj, traveled to Ankara to meet with Turkish leaders, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Analysts say that Erdogan’s decision late last year to send troops to assist the GNA played a major role in the recent reverses. They add, however, that continued support for Haftar by several foreign powers, especially Russia, mean it is highly unlikely that his forces will be pursued as they retreat back to the east.

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