BEIRUT

Middle East

Libya Islamist militias declare control of Benghazi

Fighters from the Benghazi Shura Council, which includes former rebels and militants from Al-Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Shariah, gesture on top of a tank next to the camp of the special forces in Benghazi July 30, 2014. (REUTERS)

CAIRO: Islamist hard-line militias are claiming to have taken control of Libya's second largest city, Benghazi, after defeating army units, taking over military barracks and seizing tanks, rockets and hundreds of boxes of ammunition.

A commander of one of the militias in the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries umbrella group told The Associated Press Thursday, "We are the only force on the ground in Benghazi." He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press.

In a video put out by the umbrella group, Mohammad al-Zahawi, the head of the Ansar al-Shariah militia, congratulates his followers on "this victory and conquest."

The militias have been battling forces loyal to a renegade general, Khalifa Hifter, who had been waging a campaign to crush extremist militias.

 

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