A 2011 popular uprising in Libya (supported militarily by NATO) against dictator Muammar Ghadafi led to significant upheavals in the North African country – in what former US President Barack Obama would later describe as his greatest foreign policy failure. As Libya collapsed into rival governments, factional militias and civil war, radical Islamist groups including so-called Islamic State began seizing territory. This in turn led to several foreign powers again intervening militarily – including the United States. A second wave of internationalisation began in 2019 following the commencement of the LNA’s siege of Tripoli – with Turkey backing the GNA and the UAE, Russia and Egypt supporting the LNA.
For our Libya project, Airwars initially teamed up with the New America Foundation to assess all known public records of air and artillery strikes and reported civilian harm since the end of the NATO campaign in 2011. The ongoing study was launched in summer 2018 and continues daily to monitor the security situation in Libya. Together we have identified hundreds of likely civilian fatalities in a complex conflict which has seen thousands of air and artillery strikes from at least ten belligerents, both foreign and domestic – though none has ever conceded civilian harm from its own actions. In April 2020 this became a solo Airwars project.