UPDATE 5-Renegade Libyan general claims air strikes on Tripoli

Mon Aug 18, 2014 7:28pm GMT

* Militia factions fighting for past month

* Neither side believed to have an air force

* U.S., Egyptian, NATO officials deny involvement

* Libyan government armed forces largely helpless (Adds fighting in Benghazi)

By Heba al-Shibani and Ayman al-Warfalli

TRIPOLI/BENGHAZI, Libya, Aug 18 (Reuters) - Renegade General Khalifa Haftar's air force was responsible for strikes on Islamist-leaning militia in Tripoli on Monday, one of his commanders said, after weeks of fighting for the capital in Libya's worst violence since Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011.

Fighters from Misrata - east of Tripoli - have been battling militia from the western Zintan region for weeks and have thrown the North African state into anarchy. Zintanis and Misratis worked together to topple Gaddafi but have fallen out since.

The fighting hitherto has been limited to ground action with artillery and rockets. None of the militias had been thought to own warplanes, while the central government has only an outdated air force, badly in need of repair.

Libyan television news channels speculated that the country's neighbours might be behind the overnight air strikes, which Tripoli official Mohammed al-Kriwi said had killed about five people and wounded as many as 30.   Continued...

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