By Noorah Ibrahim and Moutaz Ahmed.
Benghazi, 30 July 2014:
The Libyan Red Crescent today removed at least 35 bodies of defenders from . . .[restrict]the abandoned headquarters of Benghazi’s Saiqa Special Forces Brigade in the Buatni district. They also helped terrified neighbours quit their properties.
In a continuation what has been primarily a battle of shelling and rocketing, Saiqa and Dignity forces were today beginning to bombard their old positions. One of their targets may have been the two tanks and quantity of ammunition that are reported to have been left behind when Saiqa Commander Wani Bukhamada decided to withdraw from the base. It was unclear if Ansar had already removed the tanks or whether they had been immobilised in the fighting.
Some reports said that up to 74 Saiqa members had been slain in Ansar’s steady bombardment. It is understood that there was little, if any, hand-to-hand fighting in the battle before the headquarters were evacuated.
Operation Dignity commander, retired General Khalifa Hafter this evening appeared on the Al-Arabya news channel to say that Dignity Forces were still in control of Benghazi and that the withdrawal from the Saiqa base had been tactical.
Apart from the shelling in the Buatni District and the evening ousting of Ansar militiamen from Jalaa Hospital by an angry unarmed crowd, Benghazi has been generally quiet today. There was no repeat of yesterday’s air attacks on the Islamist stronghold of Lethi though this evening a helicopter, thought to be from Dignity forces was flying over the district. While there was some traffic on the streets, most shops, which would normally have been open and busy at this stage of Eid, remained firmly shut.
Intermittent power cuts continued in most of the city and both the Al Madar and Libyan mobile services went down for a period this morning.