Libya’s Haftar to Announce Derna Liberation as LNA Places Oil Ports in Benghazi Control

Libya’s Haftar to Announce Derna Liberation as LNA Places Oil Ports in Benghazi Control

Tuesday, 26 June, 2018 - 06:30
General view of an empty street after forces loyal to Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar took control of the area, in Derna, Libya June 13, 2018. (Reuters)
Cairo - Khaled Mahmoud
Libyan National Army commander Khalifa Haftar is set to announce the official liberation of the eastern city of Derna as his forces continued their march on the last remaining terrorists there.

Sources close to Haftar told Asharq Al-Awsat that he will deliver an address to the people on the liberation at a later time.

LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari told Asharq Al-Awsat that the army was waging a battle for the “last remaining meters” in Derna.

“Our forces managed to pound all terrorist strongholds in the city, kill and capture most of their commanders in the past few days,” he continued.

He refrained from confirming reports on the death of Atieh al-Shairi, the leader of the so-called Derna Protection Forces, a group that was set up by extremists after the collapse of the Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council.

He did confirm the “neutralization” of Muftah al-Ghweil, one of the most prominent terrorist leaders in the city.

Derna residents have started preparations to celebrate the liberation by hanging posters of Haftar and Tobruk-based parliament Speaker Aguila Saleh throughout the city. The security directorate meanwhile implemented a plan to preserve security and stability in the city.

Separately, Haftar held talks on Monday night with Ahmed Salem, commander of the oil crescent operation. He declared that the region and its oil installations are now “completely” under LNA control after the defeat of the Ibrahim al-Jadhran militias that had seized the area in recent days.

Mismari revealed that Haftar’s forces handed control of the oil ports to the state-owned National Oil Corporation (NOC), based in Benghazi in eastern Libya.

The transfer of control would create uncertainty for buyers of Libyan oil who normally go through NOC Tripoli, the base of the internationally-recognized government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, reported Reuters.

Mismari said on television that no tanker would be allowed to dock at eastern ports without permission from an NOC entity based in the main eastern city, Benghazi.

He said the move was to prevent oil revenues being used to fund militias, such as “Chadian mercenaries”, a reference to groups allied with al-Jadhran.

Jadhran briefly seized the Es Sider and Ras Lanuf oil ports this month until the LNA expelled his troops last week. The LNA says fighters from Chad helped him.

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