Haftar forces seize most of Libya’s Derna from extremist groups

Published: Updated:

The Libyan National Army has seized most of the eastern coastal city of Derna from extremist groups who have controlled it for years, a spokesman said, amid fierce fighting since late April.

Their progress continued, with troops saying on Saturday that they have mostly cleared the Ambekh area, the largest residential neighborhood in Derna, from militants.

LNA forces used multiple light, medium and heavy weapons, amid fierce clashes on the city streets, to regain control of Derna from the grip of the Shura Mujahideen Council, they said.

Troops said that the complete liberation of Derna was very near, and that military operations were continuing in the seaport and the central regions of the city and the Shaiha district.

Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, who leads the LNA, announced in May that his forces launched a military operation aimed at “liberating” Derna from extremist groups led by the Derna Protection Forces, an alliance of Islamists and anti-Hifter fighters.

Haftar’s forces have surrounded the city of 150,000 people for years.

The United Nations human rights office voiced concerns on Friday over the escalating risks to the population in Derna.

Libya descended into chaos following the 2011 uprising that toppled and later killed long-time ruler Muammar Gaddhafi.

The country is now split between rival governments in the east and west, each backed by an array of militias.

Haftar is allied with the eastern-based administration that is at odds with the UN-backed government based in the capital, Tripoli.