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At least 19 killed in fierce Benghazi clashes

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At least 19 members of both Operation Dignity and Ansar Al-Sharia have been killed in more than 24 hours of fierce but sporadic fighting in Benghazi.

Mohamed Al-Hejazi, the spokesman for Operation Dignity, told the Libya Herald that six members of Saiqa Special Forces, which is allied with the Dignity operation, had been killed in the clashes and 14 wounded. He claimed the bodies of at least 13 dead from Ansar Al-Sharia had been recovered since the fighting began.

The fierce clashes in and around Benina Airport and the nearby district of Buatni began at around 9:00pm yesterday, at which point Benghazi’s Revolutionaries’ Shura Council, the umbrella organisation including Ansar Al-Sharia and February 17 Brigade declared they had seized the airport. Benina and a nearby Air Defence Forces camp loyal to Operation Dignity have been the focus of weeks of fighting by Ansar Al-Sharia over the last two months.

Hejazi said while Ansar attacked Benina from three separate directions for a prolonged period, they were eventually repulsed, predominantly by airstrikes from Operation Dignity’s air forces. He said any claims that Ansar and its allies had claimed the airport were untrue.

The clashes have continued sporadically in Benghazi throughout the day and into the evening with the worst of the fighting taking place in Buatni. Earlier in the morning an explosive device was detonated outside the city’s passport office, causing material damage but resulting in no casualties. The office had already been closed because of the nearby clashes.

Hejazi added that rumours claiming that the leader of Saiqa’s 21 Battalion Salim Al-Nahli had been killed were untrue, explaining that he was in good health and that any information to the contrary was purposefully misleading.

Article by Noora Ibrahim, Libya Herald.

This article was originally published here.

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