Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar of the Libyan National Army (LNA) announced victory in the battle against Islamist militias in Benghazi on Wednesday, July 5. LNA forces had been battling the Islamist Revolutionary Shura Council of Benghazi (RSCB) and the Salafist Jihadist Ansar Al-Sharia (AAS) since the launch of the 2014 campaign to reclaim the city. The June 2017 push to defeat the militias centered upon the Souq Al-Hout and Sabri neighborhoods. Despite the announcement, reports surfaced on Friday, July 7, that fighting in the Sabri neighborhood is ongoing and has left at least 12 LNA soldiers dead and 35 wounded. These events are ongoing and details are still emerging.
Sabri is the last neighborhood in the city controlled by the RSCB and AAS. The groups fiercely resisted LNA forces throughout the battle, using defensive measures – including improvised explosive devices, physical barriers, and damage to strategic access routes – that will complicate the city’s recovery. Additionally, Benghazi’s political future remains uncertain as Haftar does not recognize the UN-backed government in Tripoli, but rather a rival parliament based in the eastern city of Tobruk. Both parties have made encouraging statements regarding the liberation of Benghazi, but measurable improvements will likely depend on a conciliatory agreement between the Tripoli and Tobruk governments.
The security environment in Libya remains complex. Although travel is permissible in some areas, other areas should be considered strictly off limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to travel.