By Gulsen Topcu and Enes Canli
TRIPOLI (AA) - Militias loyal to East Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar launched artillery and missile strikes in the capital Tripoli’s Souq al-Juma district early Thursday.
Since early evening, a number of strong explosions have been heard in the area, which is close to Tripoli’s only civilian airport, Mitiga.
Witnesses said Souq al-Juma was hit with many missiles, but there have been no statements issued on whether there are casualties.
Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) meanwhile announced the expansion of a no-fly zone to include Mitiga Airport.
"The LNA General Staff declared the expansion of the previously established no-fly zone in Tripoli, which includes the airport of Mitiga starting from 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday (15:00 GMT)," LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari said in a statement posted on his Facebook page.
Al-Mismari warned airlines to respect the boundaries of the no-fly zone and not to put their planes at risk of being destroyed.
In April, Haftar's forces launched a military campaign to capture Tripoli from the internationally recognized government.
Haftar announced on Dec. 12 that he had ordered his militants to launch a "decisive battle" to capture the city.
According to the UN, more than 1,000 people have been killed and at least 5,000 injured since the start of the operation.
Since the ouster of late leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: one in eastern Libya supported mainly by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates and another in Tripoli, which enjoys UN and international recognition.
Libya's High Council of State, an executive and advisory body, was formed as part of the Libyan Political Agreement (Skhirat Agreement) signed on Dec. 17, 2015 in Skhirat, Morocco to end the civil war in the country under the guidance of the United Nations.
*Writing by Davut Demircan