Libya’s eastern-based army commander, Gen. Khalifa Haftar, oversaw the final arrangements for taking over the eastern city of Darna from extremist groups, a few days after he returned from medical treatment in France.
Haftar inspected the field situation at the Darna command centre and stressed protection of civilians during the battle, the army said in a statement, without mentioning when it will start the offensive.
The general arrived in Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi on Thursday after a two-week medical treatment in France.
He went back to Libya seven years ago from the U.S. to join the NATO-backed military operations that ended Muammar Gaddafi’s four-decade rule.
Since 2015, Darna has been besieged by Haftar’s army, demanding that the Shura Council of the Mujahideen in Darna, a coalition of Islamist militias seeking to implement Sharia law in the city, leave.
The army accuses the armed group of being loyal to al-Qaida.
On April 3, Haftar announced his forces would take over Darna “as demanded by the people”.
Libya has been suffering unrest since its former leader Gaddafi was toppled by an uprising in 2011.
The country is currently run by two rival administrations, one in capital Tripoli and the other in the northeastern city of Tobruk, backed by Haftar.
In December 2015, the two rival factions signed a UN-backed deal to form a unity government, which, however, has not been able to end the political division in the country.