It is unclear whether aircraft or drones carried out the strike, which follows US statement in support of Haftar
'Several airstrikes, including the first alleged use of armed drones in the conflict, shook Tripoli overnight in an escalation of the United Arab Emirate-backed assault on the Libyan capital led by Khalifa Haftar. The allegations about the use of drones were made by the Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli, and supported by eyewitnesses.
A Reuters reporter and several Tripoli residents said they saw an aircraft circling for more than 10 minutes over the capital late on Saturday, and that it made a humming sound before opening fire on several areas. Drone strikes make a noticeably different noise from missile strikes.
An aircraft was heard again after midnight, circling for more than 10 minutes before a heavy explosion shook the ground. The UAE established a drone facility at al-Khadim airbase south of Tripoli in 2016, and experts say the ageing fighter aircraft available to Haftar cannot fly by night, making it highly likely that drones were involved.
Haftar’s offensive is aimed at toppling the UN-recognised government in Tripoli and has the backing of Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Peter Millett, the former UK ambassador to Libya, said: “The use of drones was a significant and tragic escalation that will increase the number of Libyan causalities.”
Anas El Gomati, director of the Sadeq Institute, a Libyan thinktank, said: “The air war in Tripoli has officially entered a dangerous new phase and has the become an attack by a foreign invading power; the UAE.
“Libya is still Libya, but it’s on the verge of becoming a Yemen on the Mediterranean. Haftar’s promise of enduring peace and stability is a myth. UAE drone strikes cannot deliver unity.”'
Read more: Tripoli hit by airstrikes as Haftar steps up assault on Libyan capital