first published on February 7, 2019 by Sean
Early last summer, the Libyan National Army (LNA) launched an operation to capture one of the surviving Islamic fundamentalist strongholds in the coastal city of Derna. The battle shed light on the political and military divisions still facing the fractured nation more than eight years after its violent civil war began.
The operation to capture the militant enclave of Derna from early May through late June of 2018, by Libya’s eastern government and forces loyal to the Libyan House of Representatives (HoR) based in Tobruk. With the loyalty of the Libyan National Army (LNA) under the command of General Khalifa Haftar, it remains the strongest faction in eastern Libya and controls large portions of the country. It has purportedly even been supported by airstrikes from several neighbor’s including Egypt.
However, this government is not recognized by the international community at large, or by the U.N. – which officially recognizes the General National Congress (GNC) based in Tripoli. Politically divided between the HoR in the east and the GNC in the west, Libya suffered from this lack of cohesion with regular terrorist attacks and violent clashes between various militias.
Derna is located on the northeastern coast of Libya and is more or less midway along the coast road between Benghazi and Tobruk. A regular stop on the north African terrorist routes, the militant enclave is under control of an Islamist council with alleged member ties to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. Eventually surrounded and cut-off by the LNA, the capture of the city with a population of over 100,000 proved to be difficult and time-consuming task.