Libya militants reach truce deal to end airport battle
Iran Press TV
Fri Jul 18, 2014 7:41AM GMT
Rival militant groups in Libya have reached an agreement to begin observing a truce amid a surge of violence in the North African country.
In the capital, Tripoli, clashes between rival militias seeking to gain control over the country's biggest airport sparked fears of an all-out civil war.
The Tripoli International Airport has been under the control of Zintan militants over the past three years following the ouster of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi. But it has been closed since Sunday, when gunmen from Misrata launched an attack to take over the facility.
Overnight on Thursday, the mayor of Tripoli and heads of the militant groups announced the ceasefire and an agreement to hand over the airport's control to neutral forces.
Tripoli's government council had been overseeing the talks that resulted in the ceasefire agreement, according to Mokhtar Lakhdar, a commander of the Zintan forces.
Ex-rebel fighters from Zintan and Misrata both played a key role in the uprising that toppled Gaddafi in 2011.
Meanwhile, the interim government asked the UN to help boost the country's security forces following a warning by Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdelaziz that Libya could turn into a "failed state."
The minister said the country's defense and police forces badly need expertise training to be able to protect oil fields, airports and other vital sites.
"Should Libya become a failed state, kidnapped by radical groups and warlords, the consequences would be far-reaching and perhaps beyond control," Abdelaziz noted while requesting help from the UN Security Council.
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