Brak El-Shati airbase raid

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Brak El-Shati airbase raid
Part of the Second Libyan Civil War
Date18 May 2017
Location
Brak al-Shati Airbase, Wadi al Shatii District
Result

Raid successful

  • BDB and Misratan militias raid base, destroying equipment and killing present soldiers
  • Ceasefire in Fezzan collapses
  • LNA launches counter-offensive
Belligerents

Benghazi Defense Brigades


Libya Government of National Accord (denied involvement)[1]
Libya House of Representatives
Commanders and leaders
Ahmed Abduljalil Al-Hasnawi (Attack Planner)
Jamal Al-Treiki (13th battalion commander)
Libya Ali Ibrahim Ben Nayel
Units involved

13th Misrata Battalion

Libyan National Army

  • 10th Battalion[2]
  • 12th Battalion
Casualties and losses
35 141 killed (including civilians)

On 18 May 2017, clashes broke out in Brak al-Shati airbase between the LNA and the forces of Misrata (aided by the Benghazi Defense Brigades), and 141 people were killed, according to Benghazi-based LNA military spokesman, Ahmad al-Mismari. He also said that the casualties included 103 army soldiers and unspecified numbers of civilians.[3] The LNA launched air strikes on militant sites near the area in retaliation.[4][5][6][7]

Accusation of war crimes[edit]

Human Rights Watch accused the 13th brigade, officially falling under the authority of Government of National Accord, and Benghazi Defense Brigades militia of summary executions of both civilians and soldiers. 75 bodies that were received by local hospitals showed sign of execution by shot in the head, including two 15 year old boys. Attackers were shouting slogans of You apostates, you enemies of God as they were executing captured soldiers according to one survivor who has been interviewed by HRW.[8]

Arab League decried the events as a "barbaric massacre".[9] Egyptian ministry of foreign affairs declared the event as a terrorist attack. Envoys from China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and United States of America issued a joint statement in which they described summary executions of both military personnel and civilians.[10]

Response[edit]

GNA Minister of Defense Al-Mahdi Al-Barghathi has been suspended by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj following allegations of his involvement in attack. Barghathi denied involvement, stating that ministry never ordered attack.[11]

On 20th May, after gathering of tribal elders in city of Sebha, southern tribes gave Misrata 13th battalion (former 3rd Force) 72 hours to vacate their main base at Sabha Air Base, threatening to destroy Misrata forces inside otherwise. Tribal elders declared all agreements with Misrata forces void and held them fully responsible for massacre at Brak al-Shati.[12]

Libyan National Army in following days heavily bombarded Benghazi Defense Brigades bases in Jufra District and at Al Jufra Air Base where both 13th Misrata battalion and Benghazi Defense Brigades are based as part of their new "Martyrs of Brak al-Shati operation".[13]

Presidency Council Vice-President Fathi Al-Mijabri has described the attack as a war crime and declared Benghazi Defense Brigades as terrorists, calling it an act of sabotage aimed at ending attempts of national reconciliation between authorities in East and West that in previous weeks saw multiple meetings between both parties.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Presidency Council and Tripoli MoD deny involvement in Brak Al-Shatti massacre". Libya Herald. 19 May 2017.
  2. ^ "141 died in Brak massacre says Mismari". Libya Herald. 19 May 2017.
  3. ^ "Death toll in south Libya airbase attack rises". Middle East Monitor. 20 May 2017.
  4. ^ "Clashes in southern Libya kill over 140". Xinhua. 20 May 2017.
  5. ^ "Death toll from Libya airbase attack rises to 140, defense chief suspended". Archived from the original on 2017-05-20. Retrieved 2017-05-20.
  6. ^ "Massacre reported as Misratans and BDB take Brak Al-Shatti airbase". Libya Herald. 18 May 2017.
  7. ^ "Libya death toll 'rises to 140' at Brak El-Shati airbase". BBC News. 20 May 2017.
  8. ^ "Libya: Mass Executions Alleged at Military Base". 21 May 2017. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  9. ^ "Arab League brands Brak Al-Shatti massacre "barbaric"". Libya Herald. 20 May 2017.
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ [2]
  12. ^ "Southern Elders Issue a Statement Demanding Exit of the Third Force - Fezzan Libya Group". fezzanlibya.com. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  13. ^ "Haftar forces bombard rivals after Libya airbase attack". 21 May 2017. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  14. ^ "Brak massacre a "war crime" by terrorists that sabotages reconciliation efforts, says Majbri". Libya Herald. 22 May 2017.