Marshal Khalifa Haftar, armed wing of the government of Baïda, in eastern Libya, announced on Wednesday evening 5 July in the evening the liberation of Benghazi from the Islamist and jihadist groups. Operation Dignity, launched in the spring of 2014, should have lasted only a few weeks, it lasted more than three years during which about 5,200 fighters died on the side of the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army. A long and difficult victory, but which allows Haftar to pose as the strongman of the country.
At midnight on Wednesday, the families of Benghazi were still celebrating the liberation of their city. For a young person from Benghazi, July 5, 2017 will remain a key date in the history of Libya, as well as the outbreak of the revolution on February 17, 2011. Events of joy also in other cities of eastern Libya , According to photos and videos broadcast on the Web. “Benghazi is released, Qatar is encircled,” this sentence has become a slogan for many Internet users. Qatar, being accused of supporting extremists in Libya.
This was an expected news, since the feast of Ramadan. To the inhabitants of Bengazi, the forces of Khalifa Haftar, had promised a “victory”. Less than four hours ago, Marshal Khalifa Haftar announced that the country’s second city was cleared of terrorist groups. On Wednesday, the downtown district of Souk al-Hout fell into the hands of Haftar’s self-proclaimed Libyan National Army. A place highly symbolic because it is from a square of this district that the revolution was triggered.
The fighting intensified during the last 48 hours to control this part of the center of the city, which remained in the hands of the extremists since the spring of 2014. The jihadists had disseminated an enormous amount of mines in the area, Many of the victims in the ranks of their opponents. Khalifa Haftar’s men lost nearly 100 fighters in 40 days, including 14 in the final hours of the battle.
Haftar’s forces were fighting a coalition of Islamic state, al-Qaida and Ansar al-Shari’a terrorists, as well as non-jihadist Islamists opposed to Muammar Gaddafi’s former general.
A large part of the city is completely shaved after such bitter fighting with heavy weaponry. Tens of thousands of people fled the city. The return to normalcy of the capital of Cyrenaica will take years because of the destruction of the buildings and the probable presence of many mines left by the jihadists.
Written Fabrice Hakizimana.