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44 Libya soldiers dead in month of fighting jihadists

The troops were killed in the Al-Sabri and Soug al-Hout districts, the last jihadist bastions in Benghazi, said Hani al-Aribi, spokesman for the health ministry of authorities in eastern Libya aligned with Haftar.

Forty-four soldiers loyal to Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar were killed in June fighting jihadist groups in Benghazi, according to a medical source in the city.

The troops were killed in the Al-Sabri and Soug al-Hout districts, the last jihadist bastions in Benghazi, said Hani al-Aribi, spokesman for the health ministry of authorities in eastern Libya aligned with Haftar.

No toll was immediately available for the jihadists.

Haftar, who heads the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), does not recognise the authority of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord and instead backs a rival parliament based in the country’s far east.

His forces have retaken most of Benghazi since the coastal city was overrun by jihadists in 2014.

Infighting and lawlessness since Libya’s 2011 revolution has allowed extremist groups such as the Islamic State group to seize several coastal regions, giving the jihadists a toehold on Europe’s doorstep.

LNA spokesman Khalifa al-Abidi on Saturday reported “significant progress” in the Benghazi battle, adding that the “terrorists” were besieged in an area of two square kilometres.

Haftar called on his troops this week to step up their efforts to “totally liberate the city of Benghazi from terrorists”.

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