Warplanes of Libya’s eastern government hit DAESH in Derna

Warplanes of Libya’s eastern government forces strike DAESH in Derna, forcing retreatment of terror group from port city

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Members of forces loyal to Libya's eastern government stand near to the Libyan cement factory after they took control of the factory following clashes with the Shura Council of Libyan Revolutionaries, in Benghazi, Libya April 18, 2016.

Forces loyal to Libya's eastern government said on Thursday they had carried out air strikes overnight against fighters in Derna after DAESH retreated from positions close to the city.

Derna has been the site of a three-way conflict between the forces loyal to the eastern government, the Derna Mujahideen Shura Council and DAESH.

DAESH had controlled the city until the Shura Council forces pushed them out last June. The eastern forces has attacked both groups.

Abdulkarim Sabra, spokesman of the eastern government armed forces, said the overnight air strikes had targeted Shura Council fighters in Derna's Sayeda Khadija neighbourhood and at Bishr prison. He made no comment on possible casualties.

Shura Council spokesman Hafed Addabaa said the prison had held DAESH suspects and added that the strikes had not caused any casualties or damage.

The eastern government and the Shura Council both claimed credit for Wednesday's withdrawal of DAESH from positions in Derna's 'district 400' and al-Fatayeh to the south of the city.

"We attacked DAESH in al-Fatayeh to recapture the area ... The attack was from all sides except the south, which is where they fled," said Addabaa.

Five Shura Council fighters and six civilians were killed by mines and booby traps after they entered al-Fatayeh, he said.

Sabra said DAESH had retreated because of a year-long blockade by the eastern forces and troops' shelling of the terror group’s positions.

Eastern government fighters posted videos of themselves in al-Fatayeh on Thursday, saying they had control of the area.

DAESH has gained territory in Libya as two rival governments and a range of armed factions have battled to control the country since 2014. But it has faced resistance from other local armed groups on the ground.

Derna, which has a history of militancy, was an early bastion for DAESH terrorists returning from Iraq and Syria in 2014. Though they lost control of Derna last year, the group established a stronghold in the central coastal city of Sirte.

UN-backed Presidential Council member Fathi al-Majbari speaks during a press conference on February 15, 2016. (AA)

Last month, a UN-backed Libyan unity government arrived in the capital Tripoli and is trying to establish its authority over the large oil-producing nation.

But allies of eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar have prevented moves by Libya's eastern parliament towards recognising the new unity government.

The armed forces loyal to the eastern government has been making advances on the ground in Benghazi, Libya's second largest city.

On Thursday, the UN Libya envoy Martin Kobler appealed to warring parties in Benghazi to help the departure of civilians who are trapped in areas where there is fighting and who wish to leave.

The United Nations says a large number of civilians including Libyans and migrant workers are trapped in several districts in Benghazi, where they face shortages of food and medical supplies.

Supporters of Libya's unity government hold signs during a demonstration at Martyrs' Square in Tripoli April 1, 2016. (Reuters)


TRTWorld, Reuters