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Robert Cusack

Benghazi siege: IS fights to the bitter end

The district of Ganfouda in Benghazi has seen extensive violence since 2014 [AFP]

Date of publication: 2 February, 2017

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East Libyan forces loyal to General Haftar, who have been fighting Islamic State in Benghazi since 2014, have cornered Islamic State in a small residential area to the city's south-west.

Five Libyan National Army (LNA) soldiers, loyal to General Haftar, were killed in Benghazi on Wednesday while fighting an enclave of Islamic State (IS) fighters.

The LNA has suffered heavy losses recently in trying to retake the final areas of city from IS, as the Islamist fighters become increasingly desperate with their defeat.

The fighting is concentrated in 12 blocks of flats in the Ganfouda neighbourhood in south-west Benghazi, which was mostly captured by Haftar’s forces in January.

An LNA spokesperson told Reuters that the "first phase" of the military operation to capture the area had been completed, following air strikes and intensive fighting.

Amnesty International campaigned for the safe removal of civilians from the Ganfouda district in October last year, as violence against IS fighters intensified.

IS fighters still control the Souq al-Hout and Sabri neighbourhoods in north Benghazi.

Benghazi - the second largest city in Libya - was the epicentre of much of the unrest which eventually led to the overthrowal of the long-term dictator, Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

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