Libya military commander blamed for Derna airstrikes

 01 Nov 2017 - 10:17

Libya military commander blamed for Derna airstrikes
FILE PHOTO- Libyan National Army Commander Khalifa Haftar.

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TRIPOLI, Libya: Libya’s Justice and Construction Party on Tuesday accused Tobruk-based military commander Khalifa Haftar of carrying out yesterday’s deadly airstrikes in the eastern city of Derna.

At least 17 people were killed and dozens more injured when unidentified aircraft struck the city on Monday. 

In a Tuesday statement, the Muslim Brotherhood-linked party accused Haftar -- who is loyal to Libya’s Tobruk-based government -- of carrying out “terrorist acts” and targeting unarmed civilians in Derna.

“Targeting civilians is a war crime and a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law,” the statement read.

It went on to urge “all [Libyan] parties… to ensure that the UN and UN Security Council shoulder their responsibility to protect civilians in accordance with international resolutions”.

For the last three years, forces commanded by Haftar have kept the city of Derna -- currently held by the Mujahideen Shura Council -- under a crippling siege.

Abdulrahman al-Suweihli, head of Libya’s Supreme State Council, also accused Haftar of standing behind this week’s airstrikes in Derna.

“We must put political considerations aside and condemn the so-called general command that controls the eastern region,” al-Suweihli tweeted in reference to Haftar and Libya’s Tobruk-based government.

In a video statement released Tuesday afternoon, pro-Haftar forces denied any involvement in Monday’s deadly airstrikes.

Libya has been dogged by violence and chaos since 2011, when a bloody uprising led to the ouster and death of President Muammar Gaddafi after more than four decades in power. 

The ensuing power vacuum led to the emergence of several rival seats of government and a plethora of heavily-armed militia groups.