September 22, 2023
Members of the 444th Brigade receive commander Mahmoud Hamza, who was detained as he attempted to travel from Mitiga airport, causing clashes between armed factions, in Tripoli, Libya, August 17, 2023. 444th Brigade/Handout via REUTERS

Calm Returns

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Calm returns to the Libyan capital after ferocious clashes between rival militias left 55 dead and over 146 persons injured

A Libyan militia commander whose seizure triggered the worst fighting in Tripoli for years, with 55 killed and 146 wounded, was returned to his unit on Wednesday, officials in the commander’s organisation said.

Mahmoud Hamza, head of the powerful 444 Brigade, was seized by the Special Deterrence Force (SDF) on Monday as he tried to travel from Tripoli’s Mitiga airport, which the SDF controls.

Fighting broke out between the SDF and 444 Brigade across the capital late on Monday after Hamza’s capture.

Calm returns Members of the Security personnel affiliated with the Ministry of Interior secure the streets after yesterday’s clashes between armed factions in Tripoli, Libya, August 16, 2023 REUTERS/Hazem Ahmed

The death toll from the fighting was announced on Wednesday by Tripoli health authorities, which also said 146 people had been injured.

Under a deal brokered by city elders, the SDF late on Tuesday handed Hamza over to a third faction, the Stabilisation Support Apparatus (SSA). That group released him to the 444 Brigade late on Wednesday, two officials with the brigade told Reuters.

Airlines that on Tuesday stopped using Mitiga airport, where some of the worst fighting took place, resumed flights on Wednesday, they said.

As part of the deal announced by the elders, police and other security forces that stayed neutral in the clashes moved into areas where the fighting took place.

Major warfare in Libya has been paused since a 2020 truce between the main eastern and western sides. But rival factions still hold most territory and a lasting solution to the conflict that has raged since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising looks remote.

Source Reuters/AP

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