By Ayman Amzein.
Benghazi, 25 February 2016:
The commander of Saia special forces in Benghazi, Colonel Wanis Bukhamada, has denied telling the media . . .[restrict]that there were French military advisers in the city collaborating with the Libyan National Army (LNA). He said he had not spoken to the media yesterday and that people who could not accept that the army was defeating the militants were deliberately inventing stories to try and explain its success.
Those fighting the Islamic State (IS) and its allies were all Libyans, he insisted, according to the Beida office of the Libyan news agency LANA.
The House of Representatives yesterday issued its own rebuttal of the rumours of French involvement.
Bukhamada was reported in an article by Reuters yesterday saying that French military advisers were in Benghazi and had been involved in coordinating the fight against IS.
The fight continued today, largely in Garyounis. It was meanwhile announced that the camp in neighbouring Ganfouda, used by Libya Shield No. 1 brigade, was now in the hands of the LNA.
Libya Shield No. 1 is part of the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shoura Council currently dominated by Ansar Al-Sharia. It is supposed to be led by Islamist militant Wissam Ben Humaid, but he left Benghazi some time ago for Misrata. He was allegedly seen recently in Wadi Rabie, south of Tripoli, although there have been other reports that he went back to Benghazi and then tried to flee.
Despite the continuing clashes today, the city is already looking to getting back to normal.
Roads are being reopened and streets cleaned by the local public services company. For his part, Benghazi municipal council’s Awad Alqawiri said plans were being drawn up to remove all the detritus of war in areas that have been affected by the fighting. These would be put into effect once they were fully secured. Rubble and debris from destroyed buildings would be removed as would burnt-out vehicles, earth and sand mounds used to block roads and the tons of garbage littering the streets. There were also plans to clear the city of the rodents that had flourished as a result of the conflict.
There was up to a week’s work to be done in Leithi, the Libyan news agency LANA quoted him saying. Sabri would take much longer, he added, possibly a month.
Returning residents were already celebrating in Leithi today. “There is much less damage than we expected,” one of them told the Libya Herald today. “Just between 15 and 20 percent.”
Elsewhere in Benghazi people were out on the streets celebrating what they see as the end to the city’s ordeals. Many went to Sabri despite reports that there was still fighting in one street. However, the area was quiet this afternoon, thanks possibly to the large army, police and security forces presence in the area.
A group of House of Representatives members were also in the city today, in Buatni and other areas where the fighting took place, to meet soldiers from battalions including Saiqa and acquaint themselves with the latest details of the situation. Benghazi member Ramadan Shambesh Khalifa Al-Dagari from nearby Qasr Libya and Nasreddin Muftah from Shihat also thanked the soldiers for what they had done, according to LANA.