General Haftar loses 44 soldiers in month of fighting militants in Libya

General Haftar loses 44 soldiers in month of fighting militants in Libya
Controversial military strongman, General Khalifa Haftar lost 44 soldiers in just one month of fighting militants in Libya, a medical source said on Sunday.
2 min read
02 July, 2017
General Haftar heads the self-styled Libyan National Army [Getty]

Forty-four soldiers loyal to Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar were killed fighting militant groups in Benghazi in June, according to a medical source in the city.

The troops were killed in the al-Sabri and Soug al-Hout districts, the last militant bastions in Benghazi, said Hani al-Aribi, spokesman for the health ministry of authorities in eastern Libya aligned with Haftar.

No toll was immediately available for the militant.

Haftar, who heads the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), does not recognise the authority of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord and instead backs a rival parliament based in the country's far east.

His forces have retaken most of Benghazi since the coastal city was overrun by militants in 2014.

Infighting and lawlessness since Libya's 2011 revolution has allowed extremist factions such as the Islamic State group to seize several coastal regions, giving the militants a toehold on Europe's doorstep.

But LNA spokesman Khalifa al-Abidi on Saturday reported "significant progress" in the Benghazi battle, adding that the "terrorists" were besieged in an area of two square kilometres.

Haftar called on his troops this week to step up their efforts to "totally liberate the city of Benghazi from terrorists".

Meanwhile, France's new foreign minister described Libya as a "failed state" on Thursday, while adding that the controversial renegade general could be brought into the country's future governance.

Jean-Yves Le Drian said that the road to stability in Libya required a place for Haftar under the terms of the Skhirat agreement, in an interview with French daily Le Monde.

But Haftar remains a controversial figure in Libyan politics, as he has surrounded himself with military leaders who were once extremely loyal to Colonel Gaddafi.