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Awaiting Hafter’s Return, LNA Launches Offensive to Liberate Derna

Awaiting Hafter’s Return, LNA Launches Offensive to Liberate Derna

Monday, 16 April, 2018 - 09:45
LNA Chief Commander Marshal Khalifa Hafter (Credit: Reuters)

Sources close to Libyan National Army Commander Marshal Khalifa Hafter, who is currently being treated at a hospital in the French capital, confirmed that his health is “excellent and at best.”

More so, the LNA announced kicking off a military operation to liberate the coastal city of Derna, the last LNA-labeled terror pocket in the country’s east.

Libyan sources accompanying Hafter in Paris said that the top army chief was “healthy” but declined to set a date for his return to Libya.

“The doctors advised him to rest for at least two weeks,” a source with knowledge of the matter told Asharq Al-Awsat.

According to the source, who required anonymity, Hafter was undergoing “routine” medical checkup and there is no concern for the LNA leader’s life.

Despite unofficial reports saying that Hafter will return to Libya within the next two days, accompanying delegates declined to name a date.

“This is a decision to be made by doctors ... Marshal Hafter wants to return as soon as possible, but this is a health decision, not a political one.”

On the other hand, locals reported a cautious calm looming over Derna’s outskirts. The calm comes after an army statement announcing orders to storm the city.

Orders were given at the end of a meeting joining together Chief of Staff of the Air Force, an Operation Dignity Battle commander and high-end military officials, in preparation for the liberation of the strategic coastal city.

Chief of the Army Staff Lieutenant General Abdul Raziq Al Nadouri on Saturday met with top military commanders and reviewed the latest preparations for the “liberation” of Derna, a media center linked to the Libyan National Army said.

Local sources in the city said that the army was preparing to enter the city, which was witnessing calm and cautious military alert. They added that terrorist groups that are still holed up in the city are preparing to repel the army's offensive.

LNA Spokesman Brigadier General Ahmad al-Mismari confirmed that all units in charge of the military mission in Derna had received direct orders on posts and duties from their superiors.

He confirmed that army forces are in full readiness, and they are determined to drive militia forces out of the city.

After all arrangements to enter the city were completed, Brig. Gen. Mismari said it was time for the people of Derna to get rid of terrorist organizations, stressing that the army relies heavily on the efforts of local public figures in the efforts to expel terrorist groups.

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