The Libyan National Army (LNA) under Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar has set about clearing the city of Derna, a port city in eastern Libya, of Islamist terrorists as part of national campaign to restore peace and order to the country and rid Libya of the terrorist groups hiding within its borders. Although Haftar’s forces have so far been successful in driving terrorist forces out with their latest operations, recent reports suggest the LNA may have committed war crimes in the process.
The LNA’s rivalry with the Derna Protection Force (DPF), a Libyan militia formed by Ateyah Al-Shaari, and repeated clashes for control of Derna has left the city in ruins. The DPF has historically provided safe havens for Islamist terrorists in the country and has even had several as members in its ranks.
Many from Libya have taken to social media to voice their concerns about the recent fighting in Derna and its impact on the civilian population, especially.
Here’s a video of the Red Crescent pulling a dead child from under the rubble. pic.twitter.com/O2hNdKpe8z
— غيث (@AlSanusiG) February 13, 2019
There are no official statements from the Government of National Accord (the interim government for Libya) or any NGOs to verify if the Libyan National Army has committed any war crimes. Numerous photos of the carnage, such as the one shown below, have surfaced, but they don’t provide many clues as to the nature of the fighting or whether war crimes have been committed. Note: The photo below allegedly shows the victims of a gas attack by the LNA.
Regardless of the claims of war crimes being committed, the United Nations has reported the humanitarian situation in Derna is of grave concern in light of reports of citizens cut off from access to food, water, and healthcare.
According to Reuters, “Derna has had just one small hospital since 2011 and supplies are limited.” The hospital’s assistant director reported having only 120 beds instead of the 520 in the city’s old hospital, and it is equipped with only one antiquated and barely functioning X-ray machine.
Derna requires immediate assistance from the international aid community. The city has endured insufficient public health services for years, and this latest fighting has only applied additional strain. Hopefully the city will soon experience peace and can begin to rebuild under the authority and protection of the LNA.