By Noora Ibrahim and Adam Ali.
Benghazi, 16 October 2014:
Interim Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thinni lauded the efforts of Operation Dignity following the . . .[restrict]largest gains by pro-government forces in months.
Speaking on Sky News Arabia yesterday, Thinni said the campaign by Dignity forces in Benghazi and its support from the people were a reaction to terrorism and the desire of young people to protect their neighbourhoods.
The Prime Minister said the routing of Benghazi Revolutionaries’ Shura Council (BRSC) positions and operations in the aftermath of yesterday’s fighting were all part of a plan, devised by the state and executed by the Chief of Staff Abdul Razzaq Nazhuri.
Thinni explained that following the appointment of Nazhuri in August now all pro-government forces including Operation Dignity were under the umbrella of the state, as part of the Libyan National Army (LNA).
In the aftermath of the day’s fighting sources at Benghazi Medical Centre told the Libya Herald that at least 12 individuals had been killed in the clashes. Medical staff at the hospital, which is the closest to where the worst of the battles took place, explained that they would not disclose whether the bodies they had received were civilians or combatants, or from which side of the conflict.
Other casualties may have been taken to medical facilities in Al-Abyar and Marj which have long been held by pro-government forces.
Operation Dignity has claimed that BRSC losses far exceeded their own. Mohamed Al-Hejezi, spokesman for Dignity Forces, told this newspaper that as many as 30 or even 40 members of Ansar were killed in the fighting.
These numbers were not confirmed by any other source.
However, Hejazi did say that 18 members of pro-government forces had been recovered from a juvenile correctional facility in Habba where they were being held by BRSC. The spokesman said some of them had been held in captivity for several months.
The Commander of Operation Dignity’s Airforce, Adam Saqr Geroushi, confirmed that Ibrahim Al-Tawati, a BRSC commander and the leader of the Raafallah Al-Fahati Brigade, was captured in Tolmeitha some 60 kilometres from Bengahzi after he fled the fighting. Geroushi said that Tawati had been apprehended by local security forces supported by Tolmeitha residents.
Benghazi has, for the most part, been quiet (although not completely) following yesterday’s attacks – with the exception of the Laithi district which has been sympathetic to Islamist forces. Shelling and gunfire could be heard there long into the night, residents claimed.
Further army units continued to pour into Benghazi throughout the day. One resident described them as “legions of troops”.
It has been claimed by the LNA that it now has 10,000 men at its disposal in the east of the country.
Another local, from Hadaiq, said he had spoken to different members of two battalions entering the city and said their morale was high. He added that he did not think BRSC had the power on the ground or the necessary equipment or resolve to regain the ground they had lost. “Their flags and banners are gone from the city,” he said. “They have been attacked to the point that they have no presence here.” [/restrict]