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Libyan National Army closes Tripoli airport for all aircraft, vows to down violators

The airport said on its Facebook page it was suspending operations until further notice

CAIRO, January 23. /TASS/. The Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar announced that the Mitiga International Airport in the Libyan capital was closed for both military and civilian aircraft and vowed that any aircraft trying to use it will be downed.

LNA spokesman, Gen. Ahmed Al-Mismari said during a press conference that the army has been putting into practice its plane to introduce a no-fly zone from the city of Garyan in the country’s northwest to the Tripoli coast, including the airport and the nearby airbase.

"As a sign of respect to the international community’s efforts, our Russian friends, Arab brothers who tried hard to achieve a ceasefire, we have agreed to observe it without putting forward any demands in return, except for reserving our right to respond to any threat or violation of the ceasefire by terrorist groups and criminal militia," he said. "However, the Mitiga airport has turned into the main point for the delivery of terrorists, weapons and equipment, it has become a base of Turkish troops."

"In this regard, we announce a no-fly zone being imposed from now on <...>. Therefore, the Mitiga Airport and the airbase are from now on considered to be a closed military zone, and their use by military or civil aviation is strictly prohibited," the official continued. "Any civilian or military aircraft crossing into it, regardless of who its owners are, will be considered a ceasefire violator, and all aircraft will be immediately destroyed. This is our last warning."

On Wednesday, media reported that the airport came under rocket fire, which the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) blamed on LNA. Al-Mismari strongly rejected those accusations.

The airport said on its Facebook page that it was suspending operations until further notice.

"All flights are diverted to the Misrata Airport (about 200 km east of Tripoli) starting from Thursday, January 23," the airport administration said without explaining reasons behind the move.

There are currently two executive bodies in Libya - the internationally recognized Government of National Accord and temporary cabinet operating in the east of the country together with the parliament and supported by the Libyan National Army.

The high-level international conference on Libya was held in Berlin on January 19. In the final document, participants in the conference called for establishing a ceasefire, pledged to abstain from interfering into the affairs of Libya, suggested to set up a unity government and launch reforms for restoring statehood. The parties in the conflict also agreed to set up a special commission to monitor the ceasefire.