On 5 July, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar declared that the Libyan National Army (LNA) had fully liberated Benghazi from the coalition of jihadists including the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC) and the Islamic State (IS). However, skirmishes have continued to take place between the LNA and fleeing jihadists since the official liberation announcement. Door to door sweeps in the al-Sabri and Sidi Khribish areas are ongoing in an attempt to uncover landmines and IEDs planted by the jihadists, as well as to root out any remaining jihadists still hiding in the area.
Four LNA fighters died on 7 July as they tried to seize buildings where jihadists were hiding in Sidi Khribish. On 9 July, Colonel Miloud Zwei, a spokesman for the LNA, said that fighting continued in the district of Souq al-Jarid, located between Souq al-Hout and al-Sabri. Zwei said 20 LNA soldiers had been killed by jihadists since 5 July, while 3 others were killed on 9 July in mine blasts as they carried out search operations. He added that LNA forces had killed several jihadists and arrested 17 since victory was declared. On 10 July, a suicide bomber blew himself up as he tried to escape from Benghazi’s Salmani district, injuring LNA fighters.
On 9 July, the Higher Committee of Fatwa (HCF) which belongs to the House of Representatives’ (HoR) parallel government in eastern Libya, issued a takfiri fatwa declaring that followers of Ibadism, an Islamic doctrine dominant in Oman but also followed by Amazigh communities in the Nafusa mountains as well as in areas of Tunisia and Algeria, are infidels. The fatwa has been widely criticized by most Libyans in western Libya, including politicians, human rights organizations, and activists.
The National Commission for Human Rights in Libya (NCHRIL) denounced the takfiri fatwa, saying in a statement that such fatwas undermine the national security and social peace. In response to the HCF fatwa, the Tripoli-based Fatwa House reposted a fatwa it made in 2015 regarding Ibadism which called for coexistence between the Sunnis and Ibadis. On 10 July, the Amazigh Supreme Council responded with a statement declaring its absolute rejection of the HCF’s fatwa. The statement said the accusation that Ibadhi Muslims are kafir or deviants is tantamount to an incitement to genocide of the Amazigh people in Libya, a violation of international treaties, and threatens the social peace in Libya and the wider region.
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