Fresh heavy fighting between pro-government forces and militants has claimed the lives of nearly 30 people in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.
A Libyan army spokesperson said on Sunday the clashes have resulted in fierce exchanges of fire in different parts of Libya’s second-largest city.
“A number of army units today broke into houses of militants suspected of violence in the city in the past few months,” said Ahmad al-Mismari.
“The army has gone through fierce battles in different parts of the city, especially in the western entrance,” al-Mismari added.
The latest casualties bring the death toll since the beginning of the military operations in mid-October to at least 170.
On Wednesday night, the Libyan military forces, backed by armed supporters of former General Khalifa Haftar, entered the flashpoint city of Benghazi for the first time in two months.
Spokesman for Libya’s special forces Meloud al-Zewi said that though the new advances are a step forward in the liberation of Benghazi, there is still a long battle ahead of the Libyan army.
The new moves came after Libya’s internationally recognized Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani announced last week that the country’s army and its allied forces were ready to recapture the capital Tripoli and Benghazi.
Libya’s government and elected parliament moved to Tobruk after an armed group from Misrata seized Tripoli and most government institutions in August.
The new Tripoli rulers have set up a rival parliament and government not recognized by the international community.
Libya plunged into chaos following the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The ouster of Gaddafi gave rise to a patchwork of heavily-armed militias and deep political divisions.
The North African country has been witnessing numerous clashes between government forces and rival militia groups that refuse to lay down arms. The groups are now turning their guns on each other in an attempt to dominate politics and the country’s vast oil resources.