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Libyans Celebrate Reopening of Benghazi Airport after Terrorists’ Defeat | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Passengers board a flight at Benina Airport east of Benghazi, Libya, on July 15, 2017. (Reuters)

Cairo – Libyans and authorities celebrated on Saturday the reopening of Benghazi Benina Airport.

The airport will now be open to commercial flights. It was closed for three years due to fighting in the city.

The official inauguration of the airport took place on Thursday only days after it was announced that terrorist groups have been defeated in the city.

On Saturday, the first commercial flight took off from the facility.

The first outward bound flights from Benina Airport were to the capital, Tripoli, to Amman, Jordan, and to the southeastern Libyan city of Kufra. Flights are also scheduled to and from Tunis, Istanbul, Alexandria and the western Libyan city of Zintan.

The flights are operated by two state-owned companies, Libyan Airlines and Afriqiyah Airways.

Benina is just east of Benghazi, Libya’s second city, where fighting escalated in the summer of 2014 when forces loyal to eastern-based commander Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar launched a military campaign against terrorists.

Earlier this month, Haftar declared victory in the campaign as his forces battled rivals in their last downtown holdouts.

Travelers and airport staff expressed relief at no longer having to travel to Labraq airport, a four-hour drive east of Benghazi, which had replaced Benina as the main airport for the eastern part of the country.

Haftar, commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), was absent from the reopening of the airport.

Head of the Benghazi municipality Abdulrahman al-Abar attended the event, saying that the reopening of the airport would not have been possible without the sacrifices of the LNA.

He revealed that other state services, such as the Benghazi port, will be reopened as soon as the city is completely liberated from terrorism.

Despite Haftar’s announcement that the terrorists have been eliminated from the city, a few pockets of resistance remain.

Abar vowed that he will not spare an effort in rebuilding the city “to present an image that reflects the strength of its perseverance, patience of its people and support of their courageous army in its holy war against terror.”