Overview of the battle to liberate Derna from Jihadist militants

North Africa

The city of Derna which is located in eastern Libya has recently seen clashes between the Libyan National Army and the Derna Mujahideen Shura Council.

Fighting is ongoing in the Libyan city of Derna between the Libyan National Army (LNA), led by Khalifa Haftar, and the Derna Mujahideen Shura Council.

Derna, which is located on the coast in eastern Libya, has an estimated population of 150,000 and is the last part of the country’s east yet to be captured by the LNA.

Since the battle for Derna began last month on May 7th, the city has witnessed unprecedented levels of violence. This has increased over the past days as the LNA tightens its siege and makes incursions into the city.

According to the UN, there are severe food, water and medical shortages, which have now reached critical levels. Electricity has been severed by the LNA and no aid has entered Derna since mid-March aside from kidney dialysis materials and a small amount of medication, which were delivered on May 28th.

This has led to the development of immense civilian suffering in Derna with families attempting to flee the violence. The UN reported last week that the fighting has resulted in the death of at least five civilians, among them two children, in a one-week period.

On Monday, the LNA announced that its forces had gained control of the eastern road entering Derna, marking a strategic gain in the weeks-long battle for the city. Today, the LNA made further incursions into the east of the city, with reports suggesting that the forces are positioned near the Bab Tobruk neighbourhood near the Companions (Sahaba) Mosque.

Libya is split between two governments, one based in Tobruk in the eastern part of the country and one based in Tripoli in the West. While Khalifa Haftar is known as the major powerbroker in the East, the UN-backed Government of National Accord, which is led by Fayez al-Sarraj, is the centre of power in the West.

The two leaders from both government met in Paris last week to discuss a political solution to the conflict, with both sides announcing their commitment to holding elections by the end of the year.

Image: AFP/Getty