So-called the Special Operation Force, a militia from Zintan led by Emad Trabilsi, said on Monday it will escort Tripoli IDPs back to their homes within the next few days, sparking fear of renewed clashes in the capital.
Encouraged by the withdrawal of Misrata brigades from Tripoli, the pro-Dignity Operation militia said its mission is to protect the returnees after three years of forced displacement.
Many families of Zintani origin fled the capital after the defeat of Zintani brigades by Libya Dawn coalition in 2014. The IDPs also include armed men from the Tripoli districts of Tajoura and Fashloum, who took part in the fight against Libya Dawn fighters.
Emad Trabilsi claimed that 20.000 families had been displaced. He told local media Monday that they had informed foreign embassies, the UNSMIL and the Presidency Council of their intention to return to Tripoli.
“Any threat to the return of IDPs will be met with force; we will pay our blood to defend our families,” he warned.
For its part, the UN-proposed Presidency Council said it has taken the necessary measures for the return of all IDPs before the end of the holy month of Ramadan. It said in a statement on Monday that the return of IDPs must be coordinated with the security authorities in Tripoli.
“We warn any group of entering the capital, under any reason, without coordination with the government and its security services.”
Meanwhile, Haitem Tajouri-led Tripoli Revolutionaries’ Brigade (TRB) said the IDPs are welcome at any time and they do not need a force to protect their return.
“We will not allow any armed group to enter Tripoli,” the TRB warned.
The security adviser of the Presidency Council, Hashim Bisher, promised to protect the returnees and rejected Trabilsi’s intention to enter the capital.
“The entry of an armed force from outside Tripoli is unacceptable; Trabilsi must coordinate with the Ministry of Interior,” Bisher told a local TV.
Emad Trabilsi’s militia, a.k.a Al-Sawaeiq, was expelled from Tripoli in 2014 along with the other Zintani militias of Al-Qaqa'a led by Othman Maligta, Al-Madani led by Ibrahim Al-Madani and Council of Tripoli Revolutionaries led by Abdullah Nakir.