Libya's Haftar in full force to take over Derna from 'terrorists'
The Libyan commander urged Derna’s residents to stand by the army and called on those who joined 'the terrorists to turn themselves in'
Commander Khalifa Haftar said the Libyan National Army (LNA) will intensify its offensive on the far eastern port city of Derna until it has full control of the area.
“The army will keep fighting until it takes the city of Derna from the terrorists and those who carry weapons against the LNA,” he said in a press conference on Wednesday.
The Libyan commander urged Derna’s residents to stand by the army and called on those who joined “the terrorists to turn themselves in”.
The LNA advanced this week on villages four kilometres from Derna, the last major bastion of opposition to the army in the east of the country.
Troops were targeting a coalition of extremists and rebel veterans known as the Derna Mujahideen Shura Council and were advancing on five front lines supported by air strikes and artillery.
Meanwhile, two soldiers were killed in a car bomb and another was abducted from a checkpoint in the east as forces loyal to Haftar were engaged in fierce clashes in Derna on Tuesday.
One commander was killed and two soldiers wounded, said Milad Al Zwai, spokesman for the LNA’s special forces.
The LNA, which has been trying to consolidate its grip on eastern Libya after taking Benghazi last year, has encircled Derna and launched occasional air raids over the city.
Haftar announced he would "liberate" the city early this month.
According to medical sources and statements, LNA forces have lost about nine men and 14 DMSC members have been killed during recent clashes around Derna.
The car bombing took place south-west of the city of Ajdabiya, while a soldier was abducted from a checkpoint south of Benghazi, a security source said, according to Reuters.
It was not immediately clear who carried out the attacks. ISIS militants have previously targeted checkpoints in the area.
Updated: May 23, 2018 01:49 PM