The National Commission for Human Rights in Libya (NCHRL) has welcomed the military buildup of Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled army around Derna and its imminent assault on the city, saying the operation aims to free the city from what it called “terrorist groups.”

The welcome comes despite calls by elders and politicians for calm in Libya after years of tension and clashes that fragmented the country.

In a statement on Sunday, the NCHRL claimed that Derna Shura Council, which controls the city after liberating it from ISIS, is “Al-Qaeda affiliate”, urging Haftar’s armed groups to maintain the safety of the people in their planned offensive on the city.

The NCHRL did not provide evidence of its Al-Qaeda claims despite the denial of Derna Shura Council of being Al-Qaeda affiliate or having links to any foreign groups or organizations.

“We have made it crystal clear that we are not linked to Al-Qaeda nor are we linked to Muslim Brotherhood, yet we are some youths from Derna who gasp for stability and security in all Libya, and particularly in Derna.” Spokesperson of Derna Shura Council Mohammed Taher said in a previous interview with The Libya Observer. 

The human rights group, which usually issues reports in favor of Dignity Operation, urged the eastern ministry of education, elders, religious clerics and media outlets to aware people of “terrorism and extremism” and the danger of ”terrorist groups.”

On Friday, pro-Haftar radical cleric “Abu Ayoub” declared “Jihad in Derna” during the Friday prayer in Israa Mosque in Ajdabiya, urging all people to join in.

“No mercy, no truce, no reconciliation,” the Jihadist shouted, demanding wealthy people to also contribute their money as a form of Jihad to “liberate Derna from terrorism.”

In February, Saudi-influenced Abu Abdul-Rahman Al-Makki, a Libyan extremist Salafist preacher, stayed for several hours in Ain Mara frontline southwestern Derna, to encourage Khalifa Haftar militants to “Jihad” promising them of Allah’s paradise if they crush “the Khawarij” in Derna.

Al-Makki issued a Fatwa during Misrata’s Third Force control of Sabha declaring its members “unbelievers” who must be “crucified.” He also regarded Dignity Operation fighters in Brak Shati “Mujahedeen” or “Jihadists.”

For the NCHRL, these radical groups within Dignity Operation’s ranks are excluded.

Dignity Operation and its allies brand all opponents “terrorists.” Dignity Operation spokesperson Ahmed Al-Mismari claimed last week that Tripoli is under the control of “terrorist groups.”

“Now Tripoli is under the control of the Islamic Fighting Group, the military arm of Al-Qaeda, and the militias of Muslim Brotherhood; and the elections can never be held in any way.” He said in his weekly news briefing on Wednesday, May 02.

Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled army has been besieging the city of Derna for more than a year, cutting food, medical and fuel supplies for more than 200.000 inhabitants of the city.

The so-called Libyan National Army is a composition of tribal groups, irregular fighters or Sahawat, which they call “the young supporters of the army”, and enormous numbers of radical fighters known as “Madkhali.”