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Haftar forces launch 'retaliatory' airstrikes after Libya airbase attack

Haftar loyalists struck two areas in Libya's south over the weekend [AFP]

Date of publication: 22 May, 2017

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Libyan National Army airstrikes destroy weapons depots and 'centres of operations' in the country's south in retaliation for a deadly attack on a Haftar airbase.

Forces loyal to Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar have bombed rival forces in retaliation for a deadly attack on an airbase in the south of the country, media reported on Sunday.

The airbase attack on Thursday killed at least 141 people, most of whom were Haftar loyalists.

"Warplanes launched airstrikes overnight Saturday as part of the Martyrs of Brak al-Shati operation," the LANA news agency said.

LANA, which is aligned with Libya's eastern government, said MIG-23 jets carried out seven air strikes, targeting "terrorists in Hun and Jufra" in the country's south.

Colonel Mohammad al-Manfour of the pro-Haftar Benina airbase in Benghazi said that "several weapons depots, vehicles and centres of operations" were destroyed, according to LANA.

On Thursday, members of the Third Force militia loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) attacked the base used by Haftar's self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA).

Accorrding to pro-Haftar forces said on Friday the victims included civilians and added that summary executions took place.

Many of those were unarmed soldiers returning from a military parade, LNA spokesman Ahmad al-Mesmari.

On Sunday, Human Rights Watch said in a statement that pro-GNA forces "allegedly executed at least 30 captured soldiers".

"The Government of National Accord should act on its promise to investigate allegations that its troops executed opposing forces who had already been rounded up," said Eric Goldstein, Middle East and North Africa deputy director at HRW.

"The authorities need to send a strong message that such crimes will not be tolerated, which means that if the allegations are true, they should try those responsible," Goldstein added.

Libya's Tripoli-based unity government and the rival administration in eastern Libya are battling for influence over the war-torn country, which has suffered from deep instability since the fall of dictator Moammar Gadaffi in 2011.

The LNA does not recognise the authority of the GNA, and instead supports the rival authorities based in the east.

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