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Libya: Islamist militants losing ground in Benghazi

Forces loyal to anti-Islamist Gen. Khalifa Haftar cut off an important weapons supply line and captured several areas of the city, including a port and a hospital.
By Fred Lambert Contact the Author   |   Feb. 23, 2016 at 4:46 PM
| License Photo

BANGHAZI, Libya, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- Forces loyal to the internationally recognized Libyan government in Tobruk have seized multiple areas of Beghazi from Islamist militants.

The BBC, quoting military sources and residents, reported Tuesday that fighters commanded by anti-Islamist Gen. Khalifa Haftar had cut off an important weapons supply line and captured several areas of the city, including a port and a hospital.

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Some of the Islamist militias in Benghazi are reportedly backed by political factions in Tripoli, the location of a rival government known as the General National Congress.

Following the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, Libya's rebel groups turned against one another and formed competing parliaments in Tobruk and Tripoli.

Haftar, a native of Benghazi, was a former military commander who fought with revolutionaries to unseat Gadhafi. He was appointed head of the armed forces for the Tobruk government last year.

Gains by his fighters in Benghazi place the general in a strong position amid the chaos in Libya, which has become a sanctuary for jihadist organizations such as the Islamic State.

It is not clear whether Haftar is in favor of a deal between rival lawmakers to form a unity government.

The United Nations brokered the agreement in December, but Libya's parliament has repeatedly delayed and voted against the measure over disagreements about who would be a part of the new administration.

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