Haftar forces close to taking final eastern Libya city

Haftar forces close to taking final eastern Libya city
Forces loyal to Libya's septuagenarian renegade general are close to taking over the eastern city of Derna.
2 min read
15 June, 2018
Libya National Army soldiers parade in Benghazi [Getty]

Only a few dozen "remnant" fighters opposed to Libyan militia leader Khalifa Hafter remain in the eastern city of Derna, according to forces under the self-styled general's control. 

Haftar's Libya National Army (LNA) militia surrounded Derna in 2016 and last year tightened its blockade of the city, which is home to 125,000 people. 

Seizing Derna would mark the complete takeover of Libya's east half of Libya for Haftar and his LNA. 

The septuagenerin general has spurned the internationally-recognised government in Tripoli in the country's west. He has cast himself as a bulwark against jihadi and Islamist groups, calling his years-long battles in Benghazi and Derna as anti-terror campaigns. 

But opponents in Derna say they don't have allegiance to  jihadism and are fighting to oppose military rule. 

Rights groups have repeatedly accused the Haftar-led LNA with summary killings and other abuses in eastern Libya. Concerns about the fate of civilians in the city have increased as Haftar's forces have advanced. 

On Wednesday, social media footage showed LNA forces carrying out a summary killing in the city. Two days later, video footage also showed Haftar's forces desecrate a corpse. 

Since the LNA began its Derna campaign two years ago, more than 14,000 civilians have been displaced.

Water supplies have been cut since a desalination plant was shelled in May. The city's only hospital was also closed on 5 June due to fighting.

Amnesty International has called on all parties, including the LNA, to urgently open humanitarian corridors in the city. 

On Thursday, the Benghazi Defence Brigades - which has fought both the Islamic State group and the LNA - attacked oil sites under Haftar's control. 

The oil industry forms the economic backbone of war-torn Libya. 

Agencies contributed to this report. 

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