Libyan Forces Fighting Jihadists in Benghazi Face Ammo Shortages

Reuters/Goran Tomasevic
Washington, D.C.

Forces loyal to the internationally-recognized government of Libya are facing shortages of ammunition as they combat jihadists in Benghazi, a spokesman for a Libyan army commander reportedly said.

“We are facing ammunition shortages in all parts of Benghazi,” said Mohamed el-Hejazi, spokesman for Libyan army Cmdr. Khalifa Haftar, according to Reuters.

“We are fighting terrorism on behalf of the world,” he added, reportedly appealing for help from the international community.

The forces allied with the official Libyan government have been battling Muslim groups in Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city, since the U.S./NATO-backed overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

“They have regained some territory lost last year. But progress has stalled as fighters of the Islamist Majlis al-Shura group are still holed out in several districts and the port area despite claims by army commander Khalifa Haftar that his forces control almost the entire city,” reports Reuters.

On Sunday, Abdullah al-Thinni, Libya’s official Premier, suggested that the United Nations lift an arms embargo imposed on Libya to allow his troops to purchase weapons.

“If we cannot get weapons the legitimate way, we will form an alliance even with the devil to obtain weapons to defend our people,” said Thinni while visiting Moscow in April, The Christian Science Monitor reports.

The U.N. arms embargo has been in place since the Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown and killed in 2011.

The Majlis al-Shura group posted pictures on social media purportedly showing heavy arms they had obtained locally.

Citing hospital sources, Reuters reports that in May alone, 57 soldiers were killed and 170 wounded in Benghazi where fighting has been intense.

Since Gaddafi was removed, there have been two separate governments in Libya, each allied to a former rebel group.