The “Libyan National Army” (LNA) militia under the command of Khalifa Haftar, the Army Head of Libya’s rival House of Representatives (HoR) assembly, suffered heavy casualties in the latest clashes in the battle for control over Benghazi, as 19 militiamen died Associated Press reported.
The fighting in Benghazi began in August when forces loyal to Libya’s rival House of Representatives (HoR) under the renegade ex-general Khalifa Haftar launched “Operation Dignity” in an armed attempt to capture the cities Benghazi, Misrata and Tripoli from the country’s General National Council (GNC) government.
Haftar’s forces began besieging the city, Libya’s second largest, in August but have been unable to take control of large areas of the city from the local GNC allied Benghazi Revolutionaries Shoura Council forces (BRSC).
Haftar announced late last month that his forces launched a “decisive attack” to uproot the BRSC and break the stalemate in the city, as over 3,500 additional militiamen joined the siege.
The clashes in Benghazi have lead to severe humanitarian concerns as food, power and water shortages are caused by the refusal of Haftar’s forces to comply with existing UN brokered ceasefire agreements, preventing humanitarian deliveries to the city.
News of the casualties faced by the LNA came as ISIS conducted two suicide bombing attacks against the Misratan Brigades allied with the GNC.
The first attack occurred in the city of Sirte on Wednesday, killing a soldier guarding the checkpoint adjoining Sirte to the town of Hawara.
The second attack came on Thursday as a checkpoint leading up to the Western city of Misrata was targeted, killing one and injuring three more soldiers.
The turmoil caused by the foundation of the HoR and the clashes ensuing from “Operation Dignity” has allowed ISIS to make a presence in Libya.