War drums beat east of Libya amid plans to liberate Derna

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Army forces are gathering in and around Libya’s Derna as military strongman Khalifa Haftar announced plans to liberate the city.

This escalation coincided with threats from a Salafist leader, an ally of Haftar to eliminate militants belonging to the Shura Council of Mujahideen who have controled Derna since they forced out ISIS in 2015. It is the last eastern town out of the Libyan National Army’s control.

Meanwhile, the leader of the special forces in Benghazi, Wanis bou Khamadda, announced that additional troops have been sent to the Omar al-Moukhtar operation room controlled by the Libyan National Army, at the entrance of Derna city, east of Benghazi.

Haftar has been away from Libya for some time raising many questions about his health. His return however put an end to the rumors, while his visit to Derna confirmed the Libyan army’s intention to resume its battle against extremist groups.

Haftar’s forces have encircled Derna, a coastal city, for more than a year but intermittent battles have not led to a full-scale assault.

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