Haftar says his self-styled Libyan National Army controls country's second city after three-year campaign
Libya's eastern force commander Khalifa Haftar said on Wednesday his self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) had defeated rival armed groups in Benghazi after a three-year campaign for control of Libya's second city.
"Your armed forces declare to you the liberation of Benghazi from terrorism, a full liberation and a victory of dignity against terrorism," Haftar said, wearing a white uniform in a televised speech.
Fighting over Benghazi between Haftar's forces against an array of Islamist militants and other fighters was part of a broader conflict among rival factions since the North African state slipped into chaos after the 2011 fall of strongman Muammar Gaddafi.
Code-named Operation Dignity, the assault led by Haftar targeted several militant groups that had overrun Benghazi since the uprising.
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These include the Revolutionary Shura Council of Benghazi, an alliance of militias that have among them suspected members of the Islamic State (IS) group and the al-Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Sharia.
Haftar's announcement came only hours after the LNA said it had cornered the last militants in a neighbourhood of the eastern city, which had been the cradle of the uprising.
The LNA said they were surrounding the foes in al-Sabri central district after routing them from the Soug al-Hout neighbourhood.
LNA General Abdessalam al-Hassi told AFP the militants were cornered in a small part of al-Sabri and under attack from air strikes, as well as ground forces on three fronts.
Last week a medical source in the city said 44 LNA soldiers had been killed in June alone in al-Sabri and Soug al-Hout.
Haftar does not recognise the authority of the UN-backed Government of National Accord in Tripoli and instead backs a rival parliament based in the country's far east.
In May, the Libyan foreign minister called on Haftar to accept the government in Tripoli.
"Haftar must first accept to work under a civilian authority and officially approve the political deal" that gave rise to the power-sharing authority, Mohamed al-Taher Siala told AFP.