Libyan troops loyal to Gen. Khalifa Haftar recaptured a strategic army stronghold in the eastern city of Benghazi on Monday, according to military officials, as the battle for control of the city continues.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat via telephone, a senior army official said Libyan Special Forces, which are allied with Haftar’s Libyan National Army, had now retaken their base in the city, regarded as one of the most important army bases in the east of the country.
Asharq Al-Awsat has also obtained a video showing Wanees Boukhamada, the commander of the Libyan Special Forces, making a call to senior army members informing them that the Special Forces base in Benghazi had been recaptured from rebels.
Photographs obtained by Asharq Al-Awsat also show Boukhamada and Special Forces units stationed outside the base in Benghazi, which was captured by rebels belonging to the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries group after deadly battles with the army last July.
Haftar and the military units under his command are affiliated with the government based in the eastern Libyan city of Tobruk, which is currently contesting for control of Libya with a rival parliament based in the capital, Tripoli.
Haftar’s troops have been battling jihadist groups and other rebels since the summer of 2014.
Libya has been plagued by fighting between different armed groups since the overthrow of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011, with several rebel groups who previously fought in the uprising seeking a greater share of territory and the country’s valuable oil wealth.
The picture has also been complicated by the political situation and Islamist rebels, some of whom supported the country’s now-dissolved Islamist-dominated parliament, the General National Congress (GNC), and who occupied Tripoli after the GNC was superseded by the House of Representatives, forcing the new assembly to relocate to Tobruk.
Representatives from both parliaments are due to meet in Geneva and Libya this week for a third round of UN-brokered talks, the UN mission in Libya said on Monday, as part of broader international efforts to bring peace and stability to the country.
The statement did not specify when exactly the meetings would take place, saying only that they were due “later this week.”