Libya cut off from world by air as last foreign airline suspends flights

The last foreign airline operating in country has suspended all flights to and from the country, cutting off the air links of North African country with the world by air, as Libya delves further into chaos.

Turkish Airlines suspended flights to Misrata, its only remaining destination in Libya, as it had earlier pulled its flights to the capital, Tripoli, as well as Benghazi and Sebha, over concerns about worsening security.

“We have suspended our Misrata flights until further notice, due to operational issues,” a Turkish Airlines spokesman said.

Forces loyal to Libya’s internationally-recognised government began airstrikes on militia-held Misrata at the end of December, hitting its school of aviation, just thirty minutes after a Turkish Airlines flight had taken off from the city’s airport.

Three years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya has been a country divided and spiralling ever-further into chaos. The nation is mired in a violent power struggle between two rival factions of former rebels who have established competing governments, both claiming legitimacy and control of vast oil resources.
While its UN-recognised government skulks in the eastern city of Tobruk, an Islamist-dominated assembly has clung onto power in Tripoli, despite losing an election. The two governments are nominally allied to rival militias but their control over the fighters can be limited in practice.
On Tuesday, the Tobruk government demanded tighter control over sea routes into the country, threatening to shoot at any vessel approaching ports without prior permission.
A day earlier, it had drawn stinging criticism from the Greek authorities, after Libyan warplanes bombed a Greek-owned oil tanker, killing two European crewmen. Greece’s foreign ministry condemned the attack as “unprovoked and cowardly”, but the Tobruk government insisted the tanker had been carrying militants to the Islamist-held town of Derna, where one of the town’s patchwork of militant groups has declared allegiance to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil).