Tripoli clashes subside following release of 444 Brigade commander

Aug 15, 2023 | Libyan actors

After the abduction of the 444 Brigade commander Mahmoud Hamza by Aburraouf Kara’s Rada Force on 14 August, fighting continued between those militias and their allies in Tripoli until late in the evening on 15 August. The main battle areas were along the line Tripoli University – al Shok Road – Ain Zara Five Streets. Both sides employed battle tanks and heavy artillery.

During negotiations on 15 August supported by the elders of Souq al-Jouma (the area of Tripoli where Mitiga Airport is located), it was agreed that Mahmoud Hamza should be handed over to a ‘neutral security authority’ – in this case Abdul Ghani al-Kikli’s (aka Ghinaywa) Stability Support Apparatus (SSA). Present at the meeting were Prime Minister Abdul Hameed Dabaiba, Ibrahim Dabaiba (PM Dabaiba’s nephew and advisor), Minister of Interior Emad Trabelsi, Kara (Rada), Ghinaywa (SSA), Abdul Salam Zubi (111th Brigade), Bashir al-Bugra (Tajoura) and Muhammed Bahroun aka al-Far (Zawiyya). The meeting also agreed on the release of all prisoners of the recent fighting, the return of the militias to their camps and a reconciliation process.

A fragile ceasefire came into effect from the time of the handover of Hamza to Ghinaywa on the evening of 15 August. Despite the agreement, after a brief pause, fighting resumed for a couple of hours in Ain Zara, Salaheddin, and near Tripoli University. 444 said it would continue attacks until Hamza arrived at its HQ. Dabaiba visited the damages in Al Shok Road and Ain Zara together with Trabelsi during the night.

The ceasefire largely held during the day on 16 August. On that evening, both sides prepared for a resumption of hostilities, but at about 23.00 Mahmoud Hamza arrived at his HQ in Camp Tekbali. He appeared unharmed and received a euphoric reception. In total, 55 people were killed and 146 (seriously) wounded.