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Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar announces 'liberation' of Derna

Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar announced today the "liberation" of Derna, the only city in the eastern region beyond his control, from radical Islamist militias.

Published: 29th June 2018 05:53 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th June 2018 05:53 AM   |  A+A-

Khalifa Haftar heads the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army | AP

By AFP

BENGHAZI: Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar announced today the "liberation" of Derna, the only city in the eastern region beyond his control, from radical Islamist militias.

"We proudly announce the liberation of Derna, a city dear to all Libyans," said Haftar in a televised speech.

A spokesman for his self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) earlier said troops stormed the last stronghold of the "al-Quaeda organisation" in the city centre.

The port city had been held by a ragtag alliance of Islamist and jihadist militias, including groups close to Al-Qaeda hostile to both Haftar and the Islamic State group.

The LNA launched an offensive on May 7 to seize the city, a coastal town of nearly 150,000 people, about 1,000 kilometres east of Tripoli.

Accused by his opponents of wanting to establish a new military dictatorship in Libya, Haftar supports a parallel government that rules over eastern Libya and challenges the authority of the UN-backed government based in Tripoli in the west.

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