By Libya Herald reporters.
Benghazi, 10 July 2015:
The bitter battle for Benghazi’s Leithi district continued today with the army apparently making some . . .[restrict]progress against determined resistance, while there are reports of a successful airsrtike on a second vessel bringing weapons and reinforcements to militants.
Late this evening the army broadened its assault to a further five fronts, Bouatni, Budhima, Garayunis, Teka and the Sluaq Road.
Early indications are that the militants lost at least three dead while the army and its civilian support fighters saw five deaths. One of the Ansar losses was a senior commander named as Fatah Almushiti, who, it is said, led a failed raid on clinic where medical supplies were to be had. Almushti, from Old Leithi, was believed to be a close associate of Ahmed Bukhatallah, seized just over a year ago in Benghazi and now facing trial in the United States.
Another significant casualty for the militants was a sniper, known only as “The Sudanese” who had acquired a fearsome reputation for his ability to hold up army advances.
The focus of the fighting earlier this evening continued to be on Nubs Square, which was fortified by militants after they had seized it on Wednesday.
According to a Libya Herald reporter who visited Leithi today, Ansar Al-Sharia fighters had blockaded the three entrances to the square with shipping containers filled with sand. A local army commander said that this made them extremely difficult to push aside, even with tanks.
Saiqa forces, which are reported to have received 400 reinforcements yesterday, are now being backed by five tanks from 204 Battalion.
This evening Ansar positions were hit by airstrikes launched by both Mig-23s and Sukhoi Su-17s. The helicopter gunships, which played a prominent role in yesterday’s fighting, were not in evidence today.
The airstrikes targeted a mortar position which had fired over 30 shells into the government-controlled part of Leithi. Local commanders claimed that the mortar, apparently mounted on an armoured vehicle, had been destroyed.
The army also made extensive use of 106 mm recoilless rifles as they assaulted Ansar positions.
There are also unconfirmed reports that late this evening the army thrust into Buatni, had pushed back militants and made appreciable gains.
This evening, Airforce Commander Saqr Geroushi issued a statement saying that a vessel bringing reinforcements and ammunition to Mreisa, Ansar’s last supply point in Benghazi, was hit with missiles by warplanes which attacked one and a half kilometres off the coast. He did not claim that the vessel, described as a dredger, had been sunk.
On 29 June, another supply ship was blown up as it approached the tiny port.
One local told this newspaper that there had been a notable reduction in firing from militant positions. This may indicate that they are running low on ammunition.
With additional reporting by Ayman Amzein.