At least 20 soldiers belonging to forces led by Marshal Khalifa Haftar have been killed and dozens injured in two days of fighting with extremists in Libya’s second city of Benghazi, a hospital official said on Wednesday.
The clashes come as Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), a force loyal to the country’s eastern government, tries to retake the port city from Islamist forces it has been fighting for over two years.
“Our forces have made a clear advance,” one military official told AFP.
On Monday, LNA forces launched fresh airstrikes on separate districts in Benghazi. Warplanes could still be heard in the city on Wednesday morning.
Haftar’s forces have made major advances in Benghazi, the birthplace of the 2011 revolution that toppled Libya’s longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
However, they have been unable to impose control over the whole city where they still face pockets of resistance from dissident groups.
Five years after the revolution, the country is embroiled in violence and run by two rival administrations, both backed by loose alliances of armed groups.
Haftar opposes the internationally recognised Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), which launched operation al-Bunyan al-Marsous in May to retake Sirte from the Islamic State group.