Air strikes hit Misrata amid clashes at oil terminal

Forces loyal to Libya's internationally recognised government out airstrikes on armed militia in Misrata

Forces loyal to Libya’s internationally recognised government have for the first time carried out air strikes on allies of an armed group in the country’s third largest city, Misrata.

Jet fighters from the Libya National Armu (LNA) bombed the Military Aviation Academy at Misrata, the Free Port west of the city centre and the nearby Lisco iron and steel works, Libya Herald said.

Despite the air strikes, no one was hurt in the attacks, nor was there any significant damage.

The attack was carried out on targets allied to an armed group that seized Tripoli in the summer.

Colonel Ahmed Mesmari said the strikes were in response to a renewed attempt by the Fajr Libya on Sunday morning to seize the key Al-Sidra oil export terminal. The terminal is currently under the control of anti-Islamist militiamen allied to the Tobruk-based government.

The Fajr Libya  group has been attempting to take Al-Sidra and the nearby Ras Lanuf terminal since Thursday when it killed at least 22 soldiers in a surprise attack by operation Sunrise, many of whose forces are from Misrata.

The North African country, a major oil producer, has been engulfed in fighting between the two sides, each with its own government and parliament.

Seven of the 19 oil tanks at Al-Sidra were ablaze on Sunday as a result of the fighting, an oil official said.

According to oil industry experts, Libya's oil production has dropped to less than 350,000 barrels per day, compared with 800,000 previously, since clashes first erupted around the export terminals on December 13, 

Since Muammar Gaddafi was ousted in 2011, Libya has failed to attain stability. Former rebel brigades that once fought side by side have now turned on each other, aligning themselves with rival political factions in a scramble for control.

Misrata, 200km east of Tripoli, is linked to Libya Dawn and home to a major sea port and free trade zone.  The city had so far escaped the fighting that has threatened to break up Libya.

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