Rockets target Libya airfield used by anti-Islamist general

BENGHAZI, Libya – Rockets were fired at an eastern Libyan airfield used by an anti-Islamist general but fell short, the facility's manager said Saturday, February 21, adding that there were no casualties or damage.

Unknown assailants fired 4 rockets at the international airport just outside Labraq, from which General Khalifa Haftar's forces launch raids against Islamist positions in the east.

The airport, which has civilian and military terminals, has been targeted repeatedly in recent months.

Labraq is some 65 kilometers (40 miles) west of the Islamist stronghold of Derna, which was hit on Monday, February 16, by Egyptian and Libyan warplanes.

The raids were in retaliation for the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians by local jihadists affiliated with the Islamic State group.

The town also lies roughly half that distance west of Al-Qobah, where ISIS launched suicide bombings Friday in response to the Derna attacks, killing 44 people and wounding 37, the Libyan health ministry said Saturday.

A previous toll had put the number of dead at 40, but four more succumbed to their injuries in the hours following the attack, the ministry said.

Labraq is one of the few airports still operating in the North African country, after both the Tripoli and Benghazi facilities were put out of action in clashes.

Libya, which has been roiled by turmoil since the NATO-backed ouster of dictator Moammar Gaddafi in 2011, is awash with weapons and rival militias battling to control its cities and oil wealth.

It has two rival governments and parliaments, one recognized by the international community and the other with ties to Islamists.

With the capital in the hands of Islamist militias, the recognized government has taken refuge in Al-Baida, just a few kilometers west of Labraq. –