By Ibrahim Drissi.
Benghazi, 20 August 2016:
The Libyan National Army says they have captured the European Hospital and three of the main streets in Benghazi’s Gwarsha district, including Shara Al-Shajra. Speaking on TV today, Libyan National Army (LNA) spokesman Ahmed Mismari said the main issue now, however, was the amount of mines laid by the departing militants.
Offering free passage to everyone in Gwarsha, Ganfouda, Sabri and Suq Al-Hout who is still there, providing the militants handed themselves in, Mismari also said that the latter were using a new tactic to try and defend themselves. They were setting fire to buildings in Ganfouda and Gwarsha to create a smoke screen so that the air force could not target them.
The day has seen heavy fighting in all four battle zones, with continuous sorties by LNA aircraft. Earlier, the head of the LNA arrived in Benghazi from Marj to take control of what was said would be the final offensive in Ganfouda and Gwarsha against the so-called Islamic State (IS) and its allies.
Beida-based prime minister Albdullah A-Thinni is also in Benghazi for the offensive. Yesterday he turned up to meet the demonstrators in Kish Square who were protesting against the Presidency Council and the Government of National Accord. He was accompanied by the new military governor of Benghazi, Colonel Ahmed Al-Araibi, other security officials and his interior and local government ministers.
In a further development, according to Mismari, a number of people who had been held prisoner by IS in Suq Al-Hout and Sabri had managed to escape in the chaos and make their way to LNA positions.
For its part, IS is once more claiming that French drones are being used in the LNA offensive. Again, it is not clear on what evidence it makes the claims and it is thought that it is doing so in a desperate attempt to rally support.