6 killed in battles between army, militants in Libya's Darna

Li Jiayao

TRIPOLI, May 27 (Xinhua) -- Violent battles in Libya's eastern city of Darna killed two Libyan army soldiers and four militants on Saturday, as the army progresses towards taking over the city.

"Our forces have made significant progress in Al-Fata'eh heights east of Darna. Our forces are now very close to controlling those heights after violent battles since earlier in the morning until later at night," an officer in the army's Darna operation chamber told Xinhua later on Saturday.

"Two of our soldiers from the Tobruk military zone were killed, and we killed four terrorists," said the officer, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

"From a strategic point of view, controlling those heights means that we will be occupying a large part of Darna. Thus, we would be able to maneuver in the remaining military operations," he said.

Maria Ribeiro, humanitarian coordinator of the UN Support Mission in Libya, on Thursday called on the army to allow humanitarian aid to enter Darna.

The army is launching a military operation to take over Darna from the militants who control the coastal city.

The fighting has so far killed 30 army soldiers and wounded more than 40 others, according to medical and military sources.

Since 2015, Darna has been besieged by the army, which demands the Shura Council of the Mujahideen in Darna, a coalition of Islamist militias, leave the city. The army accuses the armed group of being loyal to al-Qaida.

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