Four days after Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar announced that the Libyan National Army (LNA) has liberated the city of Benghazi from terrorism, clashes continued till Sunday in the Sidi Akribesh neighborhood of the Sabri district with at least 20 soldiers killed by “terrorists” according to Colonel Miloud Zwei, LNA spokesman.
Army sources claimed on Sunday evening that “dozens” of militants have been captured or killed and they are now combing the area.
The LNA was aware that its last week “total liberation” declaration was incomplete on the ground as it warned jubilant crowds in the city to refrain from going to the “liberated areas” because they are not yet cleared of mines and other possible threats.
Haftar in his declaration warned that despite the city entering “a new era of peace, security, reconciliation…and reconstruction” dangers still persist.
The Arab League through its Secretary General Ahmad Abul Gheit on Sunday described the liberation of Libya’s second biggest city as “an important development in the war against terrorism in Libya.” He also urged for revival of negotiations between various Libyan factions to end the war.
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE armed forces, congratulated Haftar during a meeting in Abu Dhabi Saturday.
During the meeting with the LNA chief that covered “joint cooperation in combating extremism and terrorist organizations,” Sheikh Mohamed expressed hope that the Libyan different authorities will be able to reach national unity as part of political efforts for a return to stability, reported the UAE news agency WAM.
The UAE, one of Haftar’s strong backers, has reportedly supplied him with weapons and personnel despite the arms embargo imposed on Libya.
The LNA is one of the most powerful forces in Libya and its commander is loyal to the Tobruk-based House of Representatives and does not recognize the UN-backed Government of National Accord, led by Faiez Serraj.