Fuel deliveries in the port of Tripoli were disrupted on Tuesday when a missile almost hit a highly explosive gas carrier and the national oil company ordered all fuel tankers to leave the harbor.
In an escalation of the battle for Tripoli, the Libya National Army (LNA), a faction based in the east of the country and commanded by Khalifa Haftar, said it attacked the port.
It said it was targeting a Turkish ship it said had been delivering arms to the internationally recognized government based in the capital. It later targeted an arms depot.
Tripoli port is a major gateway for food, fuel, wheat and other imports for the capital area, engulfed in war since the LNA began a campaign in April 2019 to take the city, where the UN-backed government is backed by Turkey.
State oil firm NOC said it had urgently evacuated all fuel tankers from the port after a missile struck meters away “from a highly explosive liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) tanker discharging in the port”.
“Today’s attack on Tripoli port could have led to a humanitarian and environmental disaster,” NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla said.
“The city does not have operational fuel storage facilities … the consequences will be immediate; hospitals, schools, power stations, and other vital services will be disrupted,” he said.
Tripoli-based forces said the LNA had fired four missiles.
Since January, Turkey has sent several ships carrying arms and heavy trucks to Tripoli and Misrata, another western port allied to the Tripoli government, diplomats say.