By Saber Ayyub.
Tripoli, 24 April 2016:
The Shoura Council of Mujahideen in Derna (SCMD) has accused the Libyan National Army (LNA) of . . .[restrict]airstrikes on the town today and killing civilians.
“Hafter wants to ruin Derna’s victory by trying to involve it in a new war after finally getting rid of IS terrorist organisation,” said Mohamed Al-Mansuri, the SCMD’s media spokesman, at a press conference this afternoon. He did not, however, say how many civilians had been killed or wounded although separate reports speak of three civilians killed in LNA airstrikes. There are unconfirmed claims of 12 airstrikes over the past couple of days.
Al-Mansuri also accused of the LNA of colluding with the so-called Islamic State (IS/Daesh) who were this week finally forced out of the Fataieh area south east of the town as well as the eastern suburb called District 400, and of allowing them to withdraw peacefully.
“Hafter warplanes allowed the runaway remnants of Daesh through the desert road, along 800 kilometres, without touching them. But in contrast, they attacked the civilians in the town,” said Mansuri.
In a statement, in English, the SCMD said that Hafter and IS were “two faces of the same coin of corruption on earth” and warned that anyone who supported Hafter would be punished.
The same allegation of the LNA allowing IS to withdraw was made yesterday in Ajdabiya by Ali Hassi, the spokesman for Ibrahim Jadhran.
Jadhran has long been firmly opposed to Hafter and he and Hassi have also on more than one occasion accused Hafter and IS as being two sides of the same coin.
Responding to the bombing allegations, a top LNA air force official this evening denied that fighter planes were bombing Derna. “Our objective now is Sirte”, he said. LNA forces were outside Derna and increasing in number but it was not the immediate target.
However, the Beida office of the Libyan new agency LANA (which supports the LNA) have quoted Colonel Kamal Al-Jabali who heads the LNA’s Omar Mukhtar Operations Room saying that airstrikes against the Derna mujahideen would continue.
Accusing them of being linked to Al-Qaeda, he aid that the objective was to rid the town of all extremist militias.
The Omar Mukhtar Room covers the Derna area.
Both the LNA and the SCMD have claimed they alone were responsible for forcing IS to abandon Fataieh and District 400.
There are, however, photos of the LNA in Fataieh and today the Omar Mukhtar Operations Room announced that three of its soldiers had been killed as a result of a booby trap bomb left in a house there. Another soldier had been wounded disarming a mine in Fataieh.
Residents have been returning to both Fataieh and District 400 following the IS departure and there have been many deaths and injuries as a result of mines and booby traps. As many as 35 people are reported to have been killed and 11 injured in the past four days.
Abdulkarim Sabra, the operations’ room spokesman, also has meanwhile issued a warning to residents in the Fataieh area to evacuate it for their own safety. [/restrict]