3 girls die in deadly airstrike apparently unlawful, rights group demand justice


An airstrike by the Libyan National Army (LNA) on a home in a residential area of Tripoli on October 14, killed three girls and wounded their mother and another sister. This attack on civilians is one of many apparent violations of the laws of war that require an impartial and independent investigation to attribute responsibility and hold those responsible to account, said Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a statement.  

“General Hiftar and his forces have repeatedly shown their disregard for civilians’ lives with disproportionate or indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian structures,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.  

“There is a dire need for an independent UN investigation to attribute responsibility for these airstrikes and ensure justice for war crimes and compensation for the victims’ families,” he added. 

Under the command of General Khalifa Hiftar, the armed group LNA and affiliated forces have conducted a series of air strikes that resulted in civilian casualties. They began a military campaign in April to conquer the capital, Tripoli, from forces affiliated with the Tripoli-based and internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA). 

In the October 14 airstrike, the LNA destroyed a home in the al-Fernaj residential neighborhood of Tripoli, and killed three sisters, ages 4, 5, and 7 and injured another sister, age 3, and the girls’ mother, said a statement by the GNA-aligned Tripoli military operations coalition Volcano of Rage, which is fighting the LNA The statement identified the casualties by name. An LNA spokesman, Ahmed al-Mismari, said that the airstrike targeted a “terrorist operations room” and denied targeting civilians.  

The LNA that is supported by the Interim Government in eastern Libya has consistently denied causing civilian deaths despite mounting evidence of their responsibility. 

The UN has said that fighting between the two groups in and around Tripoli has, since April, killed at least 100 civilians and displaced 120,000. 

The GNA in a statement blamed the LNA for the attack, as did the United Nations Mission in Libya, while the United States embassy attributed it to the “forces laying siege” to Tripoli. 

Under the laws of war, civilians and civilian objects may never be the object of attacks. Warring parties are required to take all feasible precautions to minimize harm to civilians and civilian objects and to refrain from attacks that would disproportionately harm the civilian population or fail to discriminate between combatants and civilians. 

The laws of war also prohibit disproportionate attacks, attacks that cause loss of civilian life or damage to civilian objects that would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated from the attack. (Source: HRW)