Tensions Flare in North Africa as the Libyan National Army Advances in Derna

first published on June 6, 2018 by

The Libyan National Army launches an operation to capture one of the surviving Islamic fundamentalist strongholds in the coastal city of Derna. The clashes shed light on the political and military divisions still facing the fractured nation more than eight years after its violent civil war began.

Recent operations to capture the militant enclave of Derna have been underway by Libya’s eastern government and its forces loyal to the Libyan House of Representatives (HoR) based in Tobruk. Having the loyalty of the Libyan National Army (LNA) under the command of General Khalifa Haftar, it is 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 has suffered from this lack of cohesion with regular terrorist attacks and violent clashes between militia’s.

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. Only recently surrounded and cut-off by the LNA, the capture of the city with a population of over 100,000 may prove a difficult and time-consuming task.

The video shows the LNA’s advance in the varied and rugged terrain likely on the outskirts of the city. Moving up columns of men and equipment, the fighters begin attacking (action starts around the 1:40 mark) with heavy weapons mounted on pick-ups and even a surviving tank.