Another 10 people have died in an airstrike in Libya, with the news coming as the United Nations Security Council heard testimony Monday from Ghassan Salamé, head of the UNSMIL mission, who warned of intensifying violence and “a race against time to reach a peaceful solution.”
Salamé said the attack on a biscuit factory in the Wadi Rabi’a neighborhood of Tripoli, with more than 35 injured as well, primarily affected migrants and may constitute a war crime.
It reflects the danger of the conflict in Tripoli, which has continued since an April offensive launched by Khalifa Haftar and the Libyan National Army against the rival Government of National Accord and forces aligned with it. At this stage, Salamé said, the violations of a Libyan arms embargo make “the dangers and direct consequences of foreign interference” increasingly evident.
Fighting has led to more than 200 civilian deaths and thousands of people displaced by air strikes, with UNSMIL estimating more than 800 drone strikes to support the LNA since April. “The total number of drone strikes in support of the Government of National Accord is estimated at around 240. It is our judgment that the drone infrastructure and operations are facilitated by external parties to the conflict,” he added.
Tanks, ammunition, aircraft parts and other equipment are brought into Libya to back the warring sides, an issue that has long been under investigation by UN experts. Mitiga Airport has remained closed after an attack that happened nearly three months ago, although GNA officials met Monday to discuss their plans to reopen the facility.
“It is somewhat of a cliché to say that the weeks ahead are critical – but once again, it is true for Libya,” the UN envoy said. “External investment in the conflict risks surpassing the amount of national involvement, taking control of Libya’s future away from the Libyans and putting it in the hands of foreign parties. Once invited in, foreign intervention is the guest that settles and seizes control of the house.”