Libya conflict revives front lines from 2011 civil war

Black smoke billows from a warehouse after an airstrike in Zawura, December 2, 2014.

(Reuters) – His Kalashnikov across his back, Libyan soldier Adel Howas rushed to the front line when air strikes targeted his comrades at a border crossing with Tunisia.

For Howas, it was a return to familiar territory from 2011 when he joined rebels in a NATO-backed uprising to topple Muammar Gaddafi.

But where Howas once fought Gaddafi loyalists on the coast road to the capital, the grizzled veteran now finds himself defending the same route against former comrades-in-arms using jets to seize Tripoli.

In the messy transition since Gaddafi’s demise, Libya is bitterly divided between two rival factions of former rebels who have established competing governments and parliaments in a complex struggle for control of the North African state.

Each faction claims the mantle of liberators, each brands its fighters the true army and each seeks international recognition in a conflict Western powers and African neighbors fear will split Libya in half.

“I came here with other revolutionaries to protect this crossing,” Howas said, wearing a uniform with a “Libyan Army” tag. “I have volunteered to fight. We are with the law and democracy. Those are criminals bombing us”…

The article remains completely even-handed, even though one side (Libya Dawn) is associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, and other more extreme Islamist groups exist in the country.