Eleven soldiers were killed and 55 wounded on day one of an offensive against extremist groups in Benghazi, the news agency loyal to the authorities in eastern Libya said Tuesday.
Forces loyal to military strongman Khalifa Haftar on Monday began the attack aimed at ousting extremists from their final two strongholds in Libya’s second city.
“There were 11 dead and 55 wounded among the armed forces in different parts of Al-Sabri and the town center,” special forces spokesman Colonel Miloud Zouai told the agency.
These forces form part of Haftar’s self-proclaimed Libyan National Army.
Forces loyal to Haftar, who does not recognize a UN-backed unity government in Tripoli and backs a rival parliament, have retaken most of the coastal city since it was overrun by extremists in 2014.
Benghazi was the birthplace of the 2011 revolution in which strongman Moamer Gaddafi was toppled and killed.
Libya has been wracked by chaos since the uprising, with rival authorities and militias battling for control of the oil-rich North African country.
Extremist groups in Benghazi, 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) east of Tripoli, include the Revolutionary Shura Council of Benghazi, an alliance of terrorists among them suspected members of the Daesh group and the Al-Qaeda-linked Ansar Al-Sharia.
On Monday, ANL forces advanced in the Al-Sabri district and the Souq al-Hout area adjoining Benghazi’s port, where the extremist groups are located.
The news agency quoted an ANL spokesman as saying that “military operations will continue until the city is completely liberated”.
It reported the spokesman as saying Tuesday that “the main port of Benghazi in the Souq al-Hout area is now under the control of these forces”.
On Monday, pro-Haftar forces bombarded “terrorist groups with great precision”, causing “many deaths and injuries”, the agency reported without giving numbers.
By Africafrique and agencies