Deadly clashes between two fighting factions, the 44th Brigade led by General Mahmoud Hamza and the Special Deterrence Forces, erupted on Monday night. The two warring factions have vied for power since Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown in 2011. On Wednesday (8/16/23), medical authorities reported a casualty toll of 55 dead and 146 injured.
Fighting began after General Hamza was detained while trying to travel through Mitiga airport in Tripoli. Hamza was detained by the Special Deterrence Force because it controlled the airport. The reason for his detainment is still unknown.
The clashes abated on Tuesday after the United Nations recognized a Government of National United, led by Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah , agreed to hand over General Hamza to a neutral party. The state news agency, LANA, stated that the agreement entailed immediate cessation of all military activities/operations in Tripoli, the return of all military personnel to their barracks. Furthermore, there would be a damage assessment to public and private property, and Dbeibah’s government would issue damage compensations.
After the calls for a cease-fire, Prime Minister Dbeibah and Libya’s Interior Minister, Emad Trabelsi, visited the southeastern suburb of Ain Zara, an area heavily affected by the clashes.
Interior Minister Trabelsi has devised a security plan to deploy officers to areas affected by recent clashes and to oversee the agreed truce.
Although flights have been diverted to Misrata, Tripoli’s main Mitiga airport reopened and resumed operations on Wednesday. Ruling in Libya is primarily split between Dbeibah in the West Region and General Khalifa Haftar in the East.
Libya had enjoyed relative stability over the years prompting the United Nations to express hopes for an election this year. However, the latest clashes have disrupted the peace and the possibility of holding the elections later this year. Nevertheless, the international community remains hopeful that the country will resolve its differences.