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Iran Press TV

Qaeda-linked militants take over Benghazi

Iran Press TV

Fri Aug 1, 2014 7:39AM GMT

Al-Qaeda-linked militants in Libya have taken the control of the country's second largest city, Benghazi, after taking over the main military compounds there.

After defeating military units loyal to renegade general Khalifa Haftar, al-Qaeda-linked groups overran an army base in Benghazi on Thursday, seizing dozens of weapons and boxes of ammunition. They also seized military barracks and everything inside the compounds, including tanks, rockets and other munitions.

For months, Haftar was leading a self-declared campaign in the city to root out "terrorists" and "extremists." However, he was dealt a heavy blow as his loyalists now appeared to be holding only the airport on the city's edges.

A coalition of multiple armed factions established an umbrella group called Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries to fight off forces loyal to Haftar. Among the factions, there is an al-Qaeda offshoot known as Ansar al-Sharia, which has declared Benghazi an "Islamic Emirate."

The so-called Ansar al-Sharia, comprising armed Salafis, had been set up during the Libyan Revolution of 2011, which ousted long-time dictator Muammar Gadaffi.

At least 200 people have so far been killed amid violent clashes between rival militias, which erupted two weeks ago in the capital, Tripoli, and the city of Benghazi.

Libya's new parliament, which was elected last month, is going to hold an emergency meeting on Saturday to discuss the deteriorating security situation in the country.

Nearly three years after the fall of Gaddafi, Libya is still grappling with rising insecurity as the country has been witnessing numerous clashes between government forces and rival militant groups that refuse to lay down arms despite efforts by the central government to impose law and order.


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