By Ibrahim Drissi.
Benghazi, 18 August 2016:
The head of the Libyan National Army, General Khalifa Hafter, has replaced the head and several members of the Omar Mukhtar Operations Room, set up last year to oversee the recapture of Derna. It follows two successful attacks in the area by the mujahideen a fortnight ago in which 12 LNA soldiers died.
In addition to removing Brigadier Kamal Al-Jabali and replacing him with Brigadier Yousef Al-Mabrouk Al Mansuri, three other top brass commanders have been appointed to the Operations Room.
The LNA finally managed to replace Islamic State forces south east of Derna last April, but this was more down to an IS withdrawal than an LNA victory. It has, however, made little headway against the local mujahideen forces who ejected IS in June last year, despite repeated air strikes and a blockade of the town.
Confirming that the specific reason from Jabali’s dismissal had been the two mujahideen attacks on 5 August, a member of the operations room said that the former commander had not been popular with his men, nor effective as a leader. He had been too willing to accept ceasefires rather than pursing military action, the source told the Libya Herald.
Mansuri, he also explained, had been one of Qaddafi’s political prisoners but when released in 1986 had not been allowed to return to the army and had to take a civilian job. From Ain Mara, he then worked in Derna until the revolution when he rejoined the military. His most recent post was military adviser to the president of the House of Representatives, Ageela Saleh.