By Libya Herald reporters.
Benghazi, 18 April 2016:
The Libyan army has at last taken the cement factory in Benghazi’s Huwari district and the . . .[restrict]adjoining cemetery, but at the cost of the lives of five soldiers including a senior commander.
Video of exultant soldiers in both the cement plant and the cemetery confirm that Islamic militants have abandoned this key position which has been fought over for months. One clip showed Saiqa special forces commander Wanis Bukhamada celebrating with some of his troops in the cemetery.
However, the moment of the army’s triumph was overshadowed by explosion of a booby trap which killed 115 Brigade commander Abdul Hamid Bouker and four other soldiers as they advanced into the plant. Such hidden explosive devices have characterised past enemy withdrawals.
This evening IS social media sites had not confirmed the loss of the factory. Two days ago they correctly denied an army claim that the site had been overrun.
It appears that IS and Ansar Al-Sharia forces withdrew from the position after a heavy army bombardment. The posted images from the army show no militant casualties nor the normal detritus of enemy occupation. The retreat may therefore have been orderly. The army is claiming that a senior, unnamed IS commander was seriously injured in today’s fighting. It has given no further details.
The fall of the cement factory now leaves the terrorists hemmed in on three sides, pinned against their last supply point, the small harbour near the tourist village at Ganfouda.
Army sources told the Libya Herald that morale among soldiers was “sky high”.
Yesterday the army appeared to have been pushed back from an attack on Gwarsha, but today soldiers started an assault of the Gwarsha Gate (see graphic above). If this is captured it will cut the link between the terrorists in Gwarsha itself and Ganfouda. Throughout the day there has been a series of fixed-wing and helicopter attacks of terrorist positions. [/restrict]