New fires are once again raging at the fuel storage depot in Tripoli after more fuel tanks were hit by close-range RPGs, despite being extinguished earlier this week. According to Libyan security sources, the fires were started deliberately by unidentified suspects. A statement issued by the National Oil Company (NOC) confirms there are now eight fuel tanks ablaze, prompting fears of an environmental catastrophe.
Fierce fighting continued in Tripoli as Misratan and allied Islamist brigades operating under the umbrella of Libya Dawn engaged brigades from Zintan. Fighting continues to be heaviest in and around Tripoli International Airport and surrounding areas, with 22 killed in clashes there on 3 August. While the Zintanis are managing to hold the airport, their position appears to be weakening. It is reported that Libya Dawn forces have taken more areas of Qasr Bin Gashir, the neighbourhood surrounding the airport, and are gradually encircling Zintani positions. Adding additional pressure on the Zintanis, a group of mayors from a number of towns, including Al-Gharian, Nalut, Zliten, Janzour, Kala and Mislata, issued a statement on 2 August giving the Zintanis 48 hours to evacuate the airport and the rest of the capital.
The head of the Justice and Construction Party (JCP), Mohamed Sawan, appeared to sanction the fighting taking place in Tripoli. In an interview with the Associated Press, Sawan declared that the Libya Dawn attack on the airport was “legitimate” because it was mandated by the General National Congress (GNC) and was a bid to “bring the airport under state control.” In a statement posted on its Facebook page, the JCP said that the Zintani’s control of Tripoli International Airport was “a violation of state sovereignty and a provocation.” The JCP also said that Libya Dawn had emerged to support the state’s attempt to retake control of the airport. This was the first time the JCP had publicly given sanctioned the fighting, and by doing so, has fuelled the general belief in Libya that the attack on the airport, and the ongoing fighting, is the Islamists’ method of preventing the political process, most notably the transfer of power to the House of Representatives.