Detained Libyan commander returns to unit as clashes leave 55 dead

A Libyan factional commander, whose capture sparked the most intense fighting in Tripoli in years resulting in 55 deaths and 146 injuries, was reunited with his unit on Wednesday, as confirmed by officials within the commander’s group.

Mahmoud Hamza, the leader of the influential 444 Brigade, was apprehended by the Special Deterrence Force (SDF) on Monday while attempting to depart from Tripoli’s Mitiga airport, a facility under SDF’s jurisdiction.

Pursuant to an agreement facilitated by city elders, the SDF relinquished Hamza to a third faction, the Stabilisation Support Apparatus, on Tuesday evening.

This group subsequently released him to the 444 Brigade on Wednesday night, as confirmed by two officials from the brigade who spoke to media.

Photographs shared by a 444 Brigade representative depicted Hamza, donned in his uniform, embracing fellow comrades upon his reintegration. In response to news of his imminent release, members of the force fired celebratory shots into the sky on Wednesday evening.

After the apprehension of Hamza, clashes erupted between the SDF and the 444 Brigade throughout the capital on Monday evening.

Tripoli health authorities revealed on Wednesday that the casualties resulting from the clashes had reached a death toll of 55, along with 146 individuals reported as injured.

Airlines that had suspended operations at Mitiga airport due to the intense fighting on Tuesday resumed their flights on Wednesday, as confirmed by aviation authorities.

Significant hostilities in Libya have been halted since a ceasefire was established in 2020 between the primary factions in the eastern and western regions.

However, competing groups continue to control the majority of the territory, and finding a permanent resolution to the conflict, which originated from the 2011 NATO-supported uprising, remains elusive.

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