Libyan warplanes hit Benghazi bases
Armed groups operating in eastern city targeted a week after renegade former general declared campaign against them.
Last updated: 28 May 2014 17:49
Two jets reportedly bombed a base in Benghazi belonging to the February 17th Brigade [AP]
|Libyan warplanes have bombed bases of armed groups in Benghazi as part of a self-declared campaign by a renegade former general to purge the North African country of religious hardline militias.|
A Reuters witness and an air force official in Benghazi said two jets bombed a base belonging to the February 17th Brigade, one of the armed groups operating in the eastern city, and an Ansar al-Sharia base in the west of the city.
"Air raids targeted a camp of the February 17 Martyrs Brigades, hitting it with two missiles," Ahmed al-Jazaoui, a former rebel, also told the AFP news agency.
February 17 is one of the biggest and most powerful militias in Benghazi. It had its origin during the uprising against longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
There have been no reported casualties so far, she said.
Witnesses also told our correspondent that dark smoke was seen from the location of the attack. Panicked residents also reportedly fled the area.
Haftar launched a campaign last week to rid Libya of what he called "terrorists". He had earlier accused the government of being weak, and not acting against the religious hardline militias in the country
Gunmen claiming loyalty to him attacked the parliament building in capital Tripoli two weeks ago to demand a power transfer, triggering the worst clashes in the capital for months.
US sends assault ship with 1,000 Marines near Libya amid growing instability
Published time: May 27, 2014 21:59
The US is sending 1,000 Marines in an amphibious assault ship to Libya's coast as a “precautionary” move should the US embassy require evacuation, a US defense official said. Adding to tensions, gunmen attacked the home of Libya's new premier on Tuesday.
Gunmen attacked the Tripoli home of Libya’s new prime minister, Ahmed Maiteeq, on Tuesday. Businessman Maiteeq, 42, and his family escaped harm, according to AFP.
An aide to Maiteeq said "there was an attack with rockets and small arms on the prime minister's house" in Tripoli at 3:00 a.m. (0100 GMT). Maiteeq’s guards opened fire on the attackers, wounding and arresting two of them, the official added.
In reaction to the heightened strife in Libya, the USS Bataan, stocked with several helicopters in addition to the Marines, is to be in the nation’s coastal area “in a matter of days,” the anonymous official said, according to AFP.
The preemptive move is a reaction to increasingly violent militia battles, which could threaten the American embassy’s security, the official said.
The US also has 250 available Marines, seven Osprey combat aircraft, and three refueling aircraft in Sigonella, Italy, AFP reported.
The US State Department said last week that its embassy in Tripoli was operating as usual despite offensives launched by a dissident general, Khalifa Haftar, against the Libyan parliamentand Islamist factions.
Meanwhile, Mohamed Zahawi, the head of Libya’s Ansar Al-Sharia militant group in Benghazi, warned against any US interference in the nation’s ongoing tumult.
Zahawi accused the US government of backing General Haftar, a "new Gaddafi," and an "agent of American intelligence.”
“We remind America, if they intervene, of their defeats in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia, because they would face in Libya something much worse," he said in a statement on Tuesday. "It was America who urged Haftar to turn the country towards war and bloodshed."
The State Department has denied any role in Haftar’s recent offensives despite accusations that the US is encouraging the senior military official. Haftar previously spent decades in the US before returning to Libya in 2011 to join rebels fighting the regime of then-president Muammar Gaddafi.
Following the ouster of Gaddafi in 2011, militias in a destabilized Libya expanded in numbers, both exploiting and filling in the security gap while the nation struggled with weak military and police forces.
Libya's parliament remains split by rivalries, with little democratic reforms made since 2011. The country is now under the rule of its third prime minister since March, and a new constitution is still not ready.
Maiteeq, who is backed by Islamists in parliament, was chosen as the new premier this month in a chaotic vote by the General National Congress. He replaced Abdullah Al-Thani, who resigned in April after claiming he and his family were the target of attacks.
Maiteeq has invited opponents to join a "comprehensive national dialogue to complete state institutions,” though he has also said he is committed to "pressing the battle against terrorists and those who threaten the security of the country," a nod to eastern militants, some of whom are blockading oil terminals in the region.
RPG attack on Ahmed Maetig’s home
Libyan diplomat held in Derna released
Terrorist groups threaten Libya: EU special envoy
GNC 1st Deputy President reaffirms illegality of
Maetig appointment; tells Thinni to remain in
Areas of Benghazi still Ansar Al-Sharia
strongholds: Hafter spokesman
LD 1.5 million stolen in bank security van heist
Regime shells rebel-controlled Khan Sheikhoun
Syrian government helicopters attacked the Idlib town of Khan Sheikhoun with barrel bombs Tuesday morning, according to the pro-opposition Syrian Revolution General Council, as the Syrian army escalates an aerial campaign in response to the rebel seizure of the strategic town on Monday. Pro- and anti-Assad fighters have struggled for months to control Khan Sheikhoun, which lies in southern Idlib province along the M5 highway connecting Damascus with central and northern Syria.
“The regime has reacted harshly” to the rebel victory, Abdallah Jadaan, an Idlib-based correspondent for pro-opposition news network Syria Mubasher, told Syria Direct on Tuesday. “MiG warplanes conducted several air raids and helicopters dropped barrel bombs on the town,” he said. Government forces also bombed the rebel-held town of Mourik, 5 km south of Khan Sheikhoun along the M5 on Tuesday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
State media has, for its part, largely remained silent, with the exception of a report from pro-Assad Lebanese daily al-Mayadeen that Jabhat a-Nusra emir Abu Badr al-Kuwaiti had been killedas rebels stormed a regime base in Khan Sheikhoun.
Aleppo rebels push back near Central Prison
Rebel fighters regained control of the northern Aleppo villages of al-Breij and Hailan on Monday after five days of heavy fighting as government forces attempted to push through the villages en route to Aleppo Central Prison, according to pro-opposition news site Zaman al-Wasl.
The villages sit roughly two kilometers south of the government prison, which rebel fighters had blockaded since early 2013 until last Thursday when regime forces broke the rebel siege.
Jordan, Syria expel ambassadors
The Syrian National Coalition (SNC) will begin working “shortly” on appointing an ambassador to Jordan from the opposition-in-exile after the Syrian regime’s ambassador was kicked out of Amman, SNC member Mohammad Marwa told Syria Direct Tuesday.
The statement follows Jordan’s decision to expel Syrian Ambassador Bahjat Suleiman on Monday, labeling him “persona non grata.” Jordan’s Foreign Ministry accused Suleiman of “using the territory of the kingdom as a platform to level unfounded accusations.”
The Syrian government quickly responded, pro-government newspaper al-Watan reported, expelling the Jordanian ambassador and labeling Jordan’s move an attempt to “disrupt the electoral process in Syria.”
The expulsions came just two days before Syrian’s presidential elections are scheduled to officially begin in Syria’s embassies globally on May 28, when only Syrians who exited the country via legal channels will be permitted to vote. The elections inside Syria, described as a “parody” by numerous Western governments, are scheduled to take place June 3rd.