SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – The Libyan army has declared support for forces loyal to retired General Khalifa Haftar as rival militant groups continue to battle for control over the eastern city of Benghazi.
Libyan army spokesman, Colonel Ahmed al-Mesmari, said the military has thrown its weight behind Haftar’s four-month-old campaign, dubbed ‘Operation Dignity’, in order to retake Benghazi from other armed groups.
The announcement came a day after Haftar’s forces resumed major attacks to oust other militant groups from Benghazi. He also called on the locals to rise up against the “terrorists.”
At least a dozen people have been killed and 10 others wounded, including three soldiers, and a man and his three children, in renewed clashes for control of the eastern city.
Meanwhile, a militia commander said his fighters took control of a military camp and tanks from Haftar’s forces after a bombing attack at the camp gates.
However, the claim has been rejected by a security source close to Haftar.
Benghazi has been a war zone since May, when Haftar declared war on the militia groups.
Forces loyal to Haftar have been unsuccessful in fighting the rival armed groups and have recently lost most of their bases in Benghazi. Currently, they just have Benghazi’s Benina International Airport and its surrounding areas under their control.
Libya plunged into chaos following the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime ruler, Muammar Gaddafi. The ouster of Gaddafi gave rise to a patchwork of heavily-armed militias and deep political divisions.
The country has been witnessing numerous clashes between government forces and rival militia groups that refuse to lay down arms. The groups are now turning their guns on each other in an attempt to dominate politics and the country’s vast oil resources.