Eighteen soldiers of the Libyan National Army, (LNA) allied to the eastern government in Tobruk have been killed in fighting with Islamist militias in Benghazi, medical officials have confirmed.
In what Commanders yesterday termed a successful operation, LNA forces seized control of some of the remaining strongholds of the Islamist militias, the self styled, Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC), opposing them within the area.
After more than two years of fighting in Benghazi, the LNA, led by controversial Field Marshall, Khalifa Haftar, resumed hostilities in the southwestern district of Ganfouda, and in nearby Guwarsha. Speaking to Reuters, military spokesman Ahmed al-Mismarisaid, “The forces of LNA have liberated Guwarsha and our forces found 15 bodies belonging to terrorist groups.”
The LNA also conducted air strikes in Ganfouda and another district, Sabri, a military official told the news agency.
Military operations in Benghazi originally commenced in 2014, when Libyan army commander, Khalifa Haftar launched Operation Dignity against the militias that had come to dominate the region, storming the US Consulate and killing ambassador, Chris Stevens and three staffers two years earlier.
The LNA has since moved on to dominate the Sirte oil basin, resuming oil production there and increasing output to 320,000 barrels per day (bpd) as of October and helping push the country’s production above 500,000 bpd.
Meanwhile, in Tripoli, Tobruk’s rival UN backed Government of National Accord, (GNA) continues to struggle to establish its authority. Further to the resurgence of the militia backed government, the GNC, who launched an October coup and still retain control over the Rixos hotel within the city center are the reports of kidnappings, power cuts and cash shortages that have become part of everyday life for those living within the city.
Moreover, within the embattled Islamic State (Daesh) stronghold of Sirte, that forces allied to the UN backed government first attacked in May of this year, fighting continues, despite the series of claims of imminent victory issued by military commanders since hostilities began there six bloody months ago.
Prior to joining Tunisia Live, Simon worked as a freelance journalist. He has lived in Tunisia since 2013 and previously worked in Vietnam and Moscow.