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Fighting spreads to Tripoli streets

FIGHTING spread to the streets of the capitol Tripoli yesterday after the army imposed a no-fly zone over Benghazi at the weekend.

The zone was a direct challenge to retired Major General Khalifa Haftar, who has apparently been using government aircraft and troops in an unauthorised campaign against Islamist militias.

General Haftar heads what he calls a "national army," which the government denounces as dangerous rebels.

On Friday his force of around 6,000 soldiers, backed by warplanes and helicopters, pounded Islamist fighters in Benghazi in clashes that killed at least 36 and injured another 138.

Interim Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni denounced Gen Haftar's forces as "outlaws" and Chief of Staff AbdulSalam Jadallah described the attack as "an act of treason and coup." 

He denied any army or airforce involvement in the Benghazi clashes, although he admitted some officers and army units had defected to Gen Haftar’s force.


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