On Tuesday, two powerful armed factions clashed in Libya’s capital in the city’s worst bloodshed this year, but the fatal confrontations ceased when one side freed a commander whose incarceration had sparked the conflict.
A Tripoli health agency said that 27 people were killed and more than 100 were injured in the fighting, but did not specify if the total included both militants and civilians.
The Special Deterrence Force and the 444 Brigade are two of Tripoli’s most powerful military groups, and their clashes have shaken regions across the capital since late Monday.
Dark smoke hung over parts of the city for much of Tuesday and the sound of heavy weapons rattled through the streets as fighting erupted in different suburbs.
Both factions had backed the interim Government of National Unity (GNU) during brief battles last year and their sudden bout of fighting shattered months of relative calm in Tripoli, underscoring the risks in a conflict that remains unresolved.
Libya has had little peace or security since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising and it split in 2014 between warring eastern and western factions.
An assault by eastern forces on Tripoli, in the west, collapsed in 2020 leading to a ceasefire that has halted most major warfare. Turkey, which backed the Tripoli government, maintained a military presence in Libya.
However, there has been little progress towards a lasting political solution to the conflict and on the ground armed factions that have gained official status and financing continue to wield power.
Last year factions backing a rival government declared by the eastern-based parliament launched a doomed attempt to oust Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, head of the interim unity government, leading to a day of heavy clashes in Tripoli.
Sporadic fighting has also this year rocked the city of Zawiya, west of the capital.