Libya strongman announces offensive to seize Derna from ‘terrorists’

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The forces of the Libyan National Army’s (LNA) commander, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, liberated eastern districts of the city of Derna from terrorists, a Libyan military source told Sputnik, adding that four Libyan army soldiers were killed in the clashes.

Derna is located 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) east from the capital city of Tripoli and is controlled by terrorist groups linked to Al Qaeda*.

The Shura Council of Mujahideen in Derna was formed in December 2014 with a view to confronting pro-Haftar forces, who, since then, have imposed a blockade on the city.

Haftar announced the offensive during celebrations of the fourth anniversary of the counter-terrorism campaign in which his units took control of half the country, including Benghazi – a hotbed of Islamist militancy and center of the uprising against the government of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

It was his second public appearance after he returned to Benghazi two weeks ago following a long stay overseas, during which he was hospitalised in Paris.

While Haftar rules over eastern Libya, the rival Government of National Accord sits in the capital Tripoli and has the backing of the broader global community.

Libya has been in a state of turmoil since 2011, when a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation bombing campaign helped rebels to overthrow Gaddafi.

While Haftar rules over eastern Libya, the rival Government of National Accord sits in the capital Tripoli and has the backing of the broader worldwide community.

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