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Haftar-led army announces ‘no-fly zone’ over western Libya

Haftar-led army announces ‘no-fly zone’ over western Libya

Tripoli [Libya]: Libya’s east-based rebel army, led by Khalifa Haftar, on Saturday announced a “no-fly zone” over western Libya, as an armed conflict between the army and the UN-backed government continues.

“We declare a no-fly zone (in western Libya) where flying is prohibited without prior coordination with the General Command of the Armed Forces and permission from General Khalifa Haftar,” said Ahmad al-Mismari, spokesman for the east-based army, at a press conference in the eastern city of Benghazi.

The spokesman said that the reason for the decision is “developments in the military operations and advancement of the army’s forces into the capital.”

“It is necessary … to warn the aviation authority and all airlines companies using this area,” al-Mismari said.

“Any suspicious target that threatens the safety of the people will be fired upon, whether such a target is on land, in the sea or air,” al-Mismari said.

The announcement came a few days after a drone allegedly belonging to the Italian airforce was shot down by Libya’s east-based army.

On Wednesday, the Italian Ministry of Defence confirmed losing contact with a drone in Libya.

“The aircraft, which was carrying out a mission to support the ‘Mare Sicuro’ operation, followed a flight plan previously communicated to the Libyan authorities. The causes of the event are being assessed,” the ministry said in a statement.

The Haftar-led army has been leading a military campaign in and around Tripoli since early April, attempting to take over the city and topple the UN-backed government.

The armed conflicts have injured and killed thousands of people, and displaced nearly 1,20,000 civilians.

Libya has been plagued by insecurity and political division since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

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