By Maha Suliman and Adam Ali.
Benghazi, 4 November 2014:
Violent clashes have erupted across Benghazi with fighting taking place . . .[restrict]in the city’s Sabri district where yesterday pro-government forces pushed towards the city’s seaport.
Saqr Adam Geroushi, the commander of Operation Dignity aircraft fighting under the banner of the Libyan National Army (LNA), told the Libya Herald that some small pockets of resistance remained in Sabri where a stray missile today struck the Jumhouriya maternity hospital.
The hospital was evacuated two days ago after it was threatened by nearby fighting. The Libyan Red Crescent helped ferry by ambulance seven newborn babies, five of whom were described as being in critical condition, to Benghazi Medical Centre (BMC).
Geroushi claimed Jumhouriya had been hit by an Ansar Al-Sharia rocket. He added that today warplanes under his command had carried out airstrikes on Ansar weapon and ammunition dumps in Laithi and on the Al-Nahr road.
One Benghazi resident said following yesterday’s clashes that the LNA now controlled all entrances and exits to and from the Sabri area. He said Ansar Al-Sharia had positioned themselves at Suq Al-Hood and had been successful in taking control of a nearby naval base which yesterday put up some resistance to the Islamist fighters.
The Libyan Navy ship that was hit by a missile in the stand-off has reportedly sunk, according to individuals living near the port. They explained, however, that the ship was not completely submerged because it had been moored in shallow waters.
One resident described the situation in Sabri as “very, very desperate” explaining that only roughly 30 percent of its inhabitants, mostly men, had remained behind during the fighting to protect their homes. “It is very, very dangerous” he said adding that some residents “don’t have anywhere to go so they have to stay”.
Elsewhere in the city clashes are raging tonight in several districts, with initial reports of fighting in Laithi, Fweihat, Tabalino, Majouri, Hay Salam, Bodeyma and Masekin among others.
One House of Representatives official today told this newspaper, perhaps over-enthusiastically, that on the back of gains they had made yesterday, government forces were now in control of central Benghazi.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Omar Al-Sunki announced the creation of a 2,000-strong security force to stabilise Benghazi. Precisely which personnel would be used to create the uinit or when it would be deployed was not said.