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East Libyan forces launch assault in Benghazi, 12 killed

Image of Libyan military chief Khalifa Haftar [Libyan Gazette/Facebook]
Image of Libyan military chief Khalifa Haftar [Libyan Gazette/Facebook]

East Libyan forces pushed on Monday into two districts of Benghazi where they still face resistance, losing at least 12 men in clashes and mine blasts, according to a medical official.

From early morning, roads into the Sabri and Souq al-Hout districts were closed and the sound of heavy weapons and flights overhead by military aircraft could be heard in the area.

The self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), led by eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar, has been fighting for three years to take control of Benghazi from Islamists and other opponents.

Read: Over 200,000 displaced Libyans allowed to return home

Earlier this year it secured districts in the south-west of the city after a long siege, but some of the LNA's opponents escaped to join fighters in Sabri and Souq al-Hout, to the north.

"Sabri and Souq al-Hout were stormed today from several directions and control was taken over several points, and numerous booby traps and mines were dismantled during the advance," said LNA commander Fadel al-Hassi.

A car bomb aimed at LNA forces had been destroyed before it could reach its target, Hassi said.

A medical source said hospitals had received 12 LNA dead and 20 wounded, casualties of clashes or mine explosions. The number of casualties among the LNA's opponents was not clear.

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