Witnesses and security officials in Libya say a warplane carried out an airstrike on Tripoli’s only functioning airport Monday, following U.N. calls for an urgent humanitarian truce in the country.
Security officers at Mitiga airport east of the Libyan capital said that no side had yet claimed responsibility for the attack, which hit the runway but caused no casualties. Forces loyal to loyal to military commander Gen. Khalifa Haftar have been continuing a push aimed at taking the capital.
Libya’s U.N.-backed prime minister, Fayez Sarraj, has called the action by Haftar an attempted coup. Haftar and his forces appear to have gained ground along the outskirts of the capital, but Sarraj said government troops are prepared to confront them.
Thee United Nations issued an “urgent appeal” for a two-hour truce in the suburbs of Tripoli to evacuate civilians and those wounded.
The U.N. Humanitarian coordinator in Libya said that 2,800 people have been displaced by the violence so far.
The fighting marks the first surge of unrest in Libya since the fall of dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for an immediate halt to the advance by Haftar’s forces and said all of the parties involved “have a responsibility to urgently de-escalate the situation.”
In anticipation of violence, the United States has pulled a contingent of troops out of Tripoli.
“The security realities on the ground in Libya are growing increasingly complex and unpredictable,” said Marine Corps Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, head of U.S. Africa Command.
The U.S. has maintained a small number of troops in Libya to provide support for diplomatic missions, counterterrorism activities and improving regional security.