7 loyalists of ex-army chief killed in Benghazi fighting
By Moataz al-Majbari, Friday, May 16, 2014
TRIPOLI – Seven people were killed and 65 injured from among forces loyal to former Libyan army commander Khalifa Haftar in Friday clashes with an army-affiliated militia in eastern Benghazi, a source close to Haftar has said.
"The military operation against the [Rafallah al-Sahati] brigade remains ongoing," the source told Anadolu Agency.
The source claimed that pro-Haftar forces had bombed positions of the army-affiliated Rafallah al-Sahati militia two times using military planes – claims denied earlier by Libyan Prime Minister Abdillah al-Thinni.
"We won't stop until all Benghazi-based militias surrender their weapons and leave," the pro-Haftar source said.
"The brigade has been reinforced by allied militias in Benghazi," the source added. "We, too, will soon get reinforcements."
Haftar's forces recently launched a campaign in Benghazi dubbed "Libya's Dignity," the stated aim of which is to "purge" the province of "rogue militias."
The Rafallah al-Sahati Brigade is comprised of Islamist-leaning militants who fought against late Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi during the uprising that erupted in February 2011.
Although the militia was later absorbed into the Libyan army, Benghazi residents continue to accuse its members of backing armed extremist groups.
In February, Haftar – who played a key role in the Libyan uprising – prompted fears of a military coup when he appeared on television in military uniform to demand the dissolution of Libya's parliament and interim government.
He had also claimed his forces had seized control of several military and strategic sites around the country.
The Libyan army quickly refuted Haftar's claims, affirming that it was in full control of all army barracks and military units throughout the country.
Libyan authorities have struggled to restore law and order since Gaddafi's ouster and death in 2011 amid the refusal of armed militias – which helped overthrow the late leader – to give up their weapons.
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