Friday, August 12, 2016

Libyan General Khalifa Haftar continues his siege of the city of Derna

Air strikes carried out on Derna as part of Khalifa Haftar's Operation Volcano begun back in May injured two civilians and destroyed two houses at the western entrance to the city.

Operation Volcano is a siege of the city of Derna by sea and land begun last May to try to remove the Shura Council of Mujahideen in Derna from power. This group was instrumental in driving the Islamic State (IS) out of the city. However, Haftar considers them to be associated with Al Qaeda, even though they claim not to be. In any event he considers them terrorists and is trying to remove them from power as part of his Operation Dignity begun way back in 2014 with an attack on two Islamist camps in Benghazi and after that an attack on the parliament in Tripoli. Ever since the IS was driven out of Derna the city has been under constant bombardment as well as having supplies cut off by the siege.
Earlier attacks which hit civilian targets were widely condemned. The UN special envoy to Libya Martin Kobler called for an end to the bombing some time ago after a number of civilian deaths, including children. Ahmed Maetig a deputy of the Presidential Council of the Government of National Accord said that the targeting of civilians areas of Derna was intolerable and unacceptable and damaged attempts at national reconciliation. Maeitig said at the time: “There can be no justification for the bombing of innocent civilians in this way. We share with our people in Derna the pain caused by these irresponsible attacks.”
Yet the bombing continues and the press has largely ignored the continued siege as attention turns to such matters as the US bombing of IS in Sirte. In the most recent attack in Derna, a young man and a six-year old were sent to Al-Harish Hospital. A mosque was also damaged by the attack which hit two houses.
Recently, the Shura Council fighters have clashed with the forces of Haftar's Libyan National Army that are besieging the city. A tweet reports: "DMSC says that they have repelled Haftar's forces attack on #Derna's western outskirts. LNA retreated to karsa." DMSC stands for Derna Mujahideen Shura Council. The UN and the GNA have not taken any action to discourage Haftar from his continued siege of the city. Some special forces from France have helped Haftar and there are US and UK units in Benghazi as well. It could be they are helping out in attacks on Derna.


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