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Libyan forces wrestle Benghazi from militant grasp

After a campaign to regain coastal Benghazi, government forces have seized control of the central neighborhood of al-Laithi. "Islamic State" and al Qaeda have gained traction in Libya following the 2011 uprising.

In a video statement, General Khalifa Haftar, Libya's army chief, called the breakthrough in Benghazi the result of "much patience."

"We have totally liberated the area of al-Laithi," said Fadel al-Hassi, a member of Libya's special forces.

Armed factions, including the "Islamic State" and al Qaeda-affiliated Ansar al-Sharia, have increasingly gained traction in Libya following the 2011 uprising that resulted in the killing of dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Celebrations

People took to the streets of al-Laithi - once Benghazi's most populous district - to celebrate the victory, carrying banners and Libyan flags.

Residents were stopped from entering certain parts of the neighborhood as loyalist forces continued to comb buildings for booby traps.

The victory comes as Brett McGurk, the US special envoy to the coalition fighting the "Islamic State," said the militant group is trying to recruit more fighters to join their campaign in the North African country.

Last Friday, the US carried out airstrikes against a militant training camp in Libya, saying they had hit a target of "high value."

Watch video 01:26

US warplanes strike IS training camp in Libya

ls/cmk (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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