Tripoli: Mitiga Airport Still Under Threat Despite Libyan Ceasefire

North Africa

Mitiga Airport is prone to regular cancellations and closures due to ongoing clashes in the city targeting the airport.

The cessation of flights is not a new crisis at Mitiga International Airport after recent shelling by Libyan National Army (LNA) forces on Wednesday once again struck the area. The airport is located inside an airbase, and has been used as a civilian alternative to Tripoli International Airport, which witnessed severe damage following fighting in 2014. 

The repeated bombardments have affected citizens attempting to use the airport, many of whom once again being the primary victims of the conflict. The cancellations of flights to and from Mitiga airport has occurred repeatedly since April this year after fighting broke out between the LNA and fighters loyal to the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA).

The Battle of Tripoli Airport was a key battle of the Second Libyan Civil War, which began in 2014. In July 2014, the Zintani Brigades, which had been providing Tripoli International Airport’s security since the overthrowing of Muammar Gaddafi, began fighting against Tripoli and Misratan militias for control of the airport. In the process, dozens of aircraft were destroyed, along with 90% of the airport’s facilities, forcing the withdrawal of the Zintani forces and the closure of the airport.

Mitiga International Airport, which was built as an Italian air force base called aeroporto militare di Mellaha before becoming a German air base during World War II, has been a key lifeline since this incident. However, during the 2019 Western Libya offensive, the airport was repeatedly targeted with airstrikes from the opposing Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Khalifa Haftar.

The aim of these airstrikes was to enforce a no-fly zone declared by the LNA several days previously. As clashes intensified, the airport was forced to shut on several occasions, although it has so far avoided the extent of damage suffered by Tripoli International Airport.