Libya has once again found itself amidst renewed violence after Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar announced that the Libyan National Army (LNA) had liberated the city of Benghazi from terrorism. The clashes continued over the weekend in the Sidi Akribesh neighborhood of the Sabri district with at least 20 soldiers killed. The LNA knew that its last week “liberation” declaration was not complete on the ground as it warned celebrating crowds in the city not to enter the “liberated” areas because there are still mines and other possible threats. Marshall Haftar said that despite the city entering “a new era of peace, security, reconciliation…and reconstruction,” dangers still persist.
The Arab League commented that the liberation of Libya’s second biggest city is “an important development in the war against terrorism in Libya” and urged for the revival of talks between various Libyan factions to finally put an end to the conflict. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates armed forces, congratulated Mr. Haftar during a meeting in Abu Dhabi over the weekend.
During his meeting with the LNA chief that also touched upon “joint cooperation in combating extremism and terrorist organizations” Sheikh Mohamed said that he hoped that the different Libyan authorities would be able to unify the nation as part of political efforts for a return to stability. The UAE is one of Marshall Haftar’s strong supporters and it has supplied him with weapons despite the embargo imposed on the country. The LNA is one of the biggest and most influential factions in Libya and its chief is loyal to the Tobruk-based House of Representatives but not the UN-supported Government of National Accord.