BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:35 P.M.) – In recent hours, the Libyan National Army (LNA) declared full control over Benghazi, the second most populous urban centre in Libya, effectively bringing an end to the almost three year battle for the city.
The entire battle for Benghazi – beginning in October 2014 – was titled ‘Operation Digninty’ by the LNA.
Rival parties involved for control of the city was the LNA on one side, representing the Tobruk government, and the combined forces of the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council and ISIS jihadist groups on the other side.
By the beginning of 2017, there were two jihadist-held enclaves within Benghazi and its suburbs: Ganfuda and neighbouring areas to the southwest of the city and the Sooq al-Hout and Al-Sabri districts near the harbour in the north, northwestern sectors of the city.
At the end of January 2017, the LNA liberated Ganfuda and by mid-March, the LNA wrestled control of Busneib from the jihdaist coalition.
Following this, the LNA began to mop-up the second enclave within the city itself. This operation started at the beginning of the May. By the end of June, the Sooq Al-Hout area was liberated and, with the the beginning of July, the Al-Sabri district too was cleared of jihadist occupiers.
During the battle for Benghazi, the LNA lost 5,200 men and officers dead. It received support from Egypt and, allegedly, also from the United Arab Emirates.
Some sources suggest that the next operation for the LNA will be the liberation of Derna – the last jihadist-held city in all of eastern Libya