Libya will respond to recent overnight airstrikes on strategically important Al-Watiya airbase, said Libya’s deputy defense minister Sunday.

Writing on social media, Salah Al-Namroush said the airstrikes by foreign fighter jets supporting “war criminal Khalifa Haftar” were a failed attempt to distract from recent victories by the Libyan Army.

He said the response to the attacks would be given at the “right time and the right place.”

A military source, speaking on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media, told Anadolu Agency on Sunday that the airbase was struck by unidentified planes.

No casualties were reported following the incident, but some equipment recently brought to boost the airbase’s air-defense capabilities was damaged.

The overnight attacks were the first since the Libyan Army captured the airbase from Haftar’s militia in May.

Libya has been torn by a civil war since the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The country’s new government was founded in 2015 under a UN-led agreement, but efforts for a long-term political settlement failed due to a military offensive by warlord Khalifa Haftar’s forces.

The UN recognizes the Libyan government headed by Fayez al-Sarraj as the country’s legitimate authority, as Tripoli battles Haftar’s militias.

The government launched Operation Peace Storm against Haftar in March to counter Haftar’s attacks on the capital Tripoli, and recently liberated strategic locations, including Al-Watiya airbase and the city of Tarhuna, Haftar’s final stronghold in western Libya.

* Writing by Ali Murat Alhas

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