Forces loyal to Brigadier General Khalifa Haftar yesterday declared their control of new districts in Libya’s eastern city of Derna, where battles are taking place against the Derna Protection Forces (DPF).
The announcement came in a statement by the Special Forces affiliated to Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) on Facebook.
“The LNA is currently controlling most of the city, but there are still pockets of resistance,” its spokesman General Ahmed Al-Mesmari said.
Displaced families can now return to their homes in “liberated areas” of the city, the official added.
On Saturday, the LNA announced the recapture of the western and eastern Sheiha areas, where one of the most violent clashes took place against the DPF, and the Red Crescent evacuated 320 families who were stranded as a result.
“What remains outside the control of our forces is considered a small combat zone,” Al-Mesmari noted, stressing that “the operations are in their final stages and the fighting is very heavy.”
On 7 May, LNA launched a ground offensive to recapture Derna after besieging the city – the last in eastern Libya to elude their control – for around two years. Since 17 May, clashes have been taking place between LNA and DPF in Derna, which resulted in deaths and injuries on both sides.
Derna is located about 265 kilometres to the west of the border with Egypt, one of several foreign powers that has provided support to Haftar, and is the home of about 150,000 people.
The United Nations (UN) recently expressed concerns about the plight of Derna’s 125,000 residents, whose access to food, water, communications and medical treatment has been severely restricted following the violent clashes.
-Middle East Monitor