12 East Libyan Soldiers Killed in Latest Attempt to Raid Benghazi

Heavy Fighting as Local Factions Continue to Keep 'National Army' Out

The Libyan National Army (LNA) of Gen. Khalifa Hifter, which is loyal to the Tobruk parliament, has repeatedly made attempts to capture the nation’s most important eastern city, Benghazi, but has struggled to get more than a temporary foothold. That happened again today with their latest push into the city.

Locals reported the use of heavy weapons and a lot of gunfire, and in the end 12 soldiers from the LNA were reported killed, some in the fighting and some just hitting the landmines that scatter the city’s outskirts. 20 other soldiers were wounded, and there was no word of casualties from the other side.

Exactly who the “other side” is is never all that clear in Libya, though Benghazi has several Islamist factions, mostly local ones with no ambitions outside the city limits, and all of whom Gen. Hifter insists are terrorists that must be wiped out, so one guess is as good as a next who they’re attacking at any given time.

In practice, the real value of Benghazi is not that Hifter wants to wipe out Islamists there, but that it is a hugely important part of the nation’s oil industry, and control over Benghazi should establish the Tobruk parliament, and its military in particular, as a major economic force in eastern Libya. With no sign of anyone successfully unifying the country, controls of segments could be a good consolation prize.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.