World Bulletin / News Desk
Forces affiliated to renegade Libyan general Khalifa Haftar on Sunday attacked with heavy weapons areas controlled by Ansar Al-Sharia rebels in the eastern city of Benghazi.
Haftar's air force commander Saqr al-Grouchi said the attacks targeted areas controlled by Ansar Al-Sharia as well as other "extremist" factions in eastern Benghazi.
"This attack will be followed by an aerial strike against a site controlled by extremists in Benghazi suburbs," al-Grouchi told Anadolu Agency.
"There are now heavy clashes in Sidi Faraj and al-Hawari (in western Benghazi). Our forces are attacking with tanks and rocket launchers," Haftar's spokesman Mohamed El Hejazi added.
He called on civilians to stay away from volatile areas.
Residents were seen packing belongings into cars and heading out of the area to escape the fighting.
Benghazi hospitals said, however, that they did not receive victims from the attack yet.
Hejazi said Haftar had warned the rebels against shipping in arms via the commercial port of Derna, east of Benghazi.
Derna is a hotspot for Ansar al-Sharia and other groups amid Libya's persistent power vacuum.
Haftar was once close to Gaddafi but fell out with him and then played a role in the 2011 uprising. In February, he stirred rumours of a coup by appearing in military uniform to call for a presidential committee to be formed to govern till an election.
Haftar has declared war on rebels in the eastern parts of his country more than a month ago, but the Libyan government has called his campaign a "coup".
HAFTAR FORCED TO RETREAT
A leader from the self-styled Revolutionaries' Operations Room, a group of rebels who had fought against late leader Muammar Gaddafi before later joining the regular Libyan army, said Ansar al-Sharia had forced Haftar's troops to retreat from eastern Benghazi.
"Haftar's forces were met with fierce resistance from Ansar Al-Sharia and the revolutionaries, forcing them to retreat," Talal Mohamed told Anadolu Agency.
He said that the revolutionaries had seized vehicles used by Haftar's forces, but declined to comment on casualties from the fighting.
"This is an ongoing battle and it's difficult to have precise information about victims now," added Mohamed.Last Mod: 15 Haziran 2014, 15:15