By Mohammed Idriss Taher, Head of Media Office of Derna Shura Council
On the very day Derna residents took to the streets to express their joy and excitement for liberating their city and uprooting the IS militias, Haftar’s warplanes bombarded the camps of Derna Shura Council, causing material damage in the building.
On the next day, Haftar’s warplanes carried out 12 airstrikes that randomly targeted the western entrance of Derna, causing also material damage to the Korean company, the residential buildings as well as the sports compound.
On yet another day, Haftar’s air force carried out four other air raids on other locations, including a quarry, killing its owner and one of the workers as well as a mosque’s imam and injuring others.
The first Friday after those airstrikes, Derna residents went out to Al-Sahaba Mosque Square, which is considered the one place all Derna locals fall back upon to express their stance on any event or development. They took to the square to express their anger and rejection of those airstrikes and the killing of citizens, wondering, “Why on earth Derna is being bombed!” “Is it being punished for fighting Daesh?” They pondered.
On the same Friday and a day after, other helicopters shelled different locations in the city haphazardly and with very arbitrary targets, knowing that Haftar’s barrel bombs that are fission bombs in essence explode multiple times without paying the least attention to the locations and human targets they fall onto.
We do not have any personal interests in power whatsoever. We look for a state that places justice on top of its affairs and secures its citizens and sovereignty of its soil. We, the revolutionaries, went out from the first day of the revolution chanting for justice and equality among all Libyans. We do not want to go back to square one, where there is only one ruler, one voice, and one and only ideology that cannot be opposed or contested.
Derna unveiled Haftar’s scam project that was formed on the pretext of terrorism to carry out his coup d'état on the state institutions and throws Libyan back into the chains of the military rule.
When Haftar adopted the slogan of fighting terrorism and destroyed Benghazi in a sheer annihilating manner to crack its social fabric using it as a card to play it in the political arena, Derna’s project, which is so evident and away from politicians’ conflicts and power gains, came up. Therefore, Derna Shura Council revolted and so did the city’s residents, providing all they could until they have made victory over Daesh.
As Derna used to be considered the first and main stronghold of Daesh, its defeat and retreat from there reassures that defeating it is possible once honest intentions are found and if the main aim was defeating them and nothing else. Haftar knew this very well, and knew how honest Derna residents were regarding the fight against Daesh.
After the first three days of fighting, Derna Shura Council managed to defeat and kick out Daesh to Derna’s outlying Al-Fatayeh district. Days later, Derna Shura launched “Al-Nahrawan” Operation to liberate Al-Fatayeh. When they were able to make victory, they were struck as odd by the infiltration of Haftar’s forces from the city’s western entrance to take hold of the city. Haftar’s forces clashed with a small patrol of the Derna Shura Council, and then Haftar’s warplanes bombed the city.
At the heart of the fight against Daesh in Al-Fatayeh district, Haftar’s forces blocked the only vital main road that connects Derna with the fighters in Al-Fatayeh front line. They hindered supplies from reaching Derna Shura Council so that Daesh seized the opportunity and attacked the council’s positions and controlled them in Al-Hila, which allowed Daesh to have a refreshing vent that allowed them to escape through the desert.
When escaping through the desert, Daesh took a halt in one of the villages, Al-Makhili, and they killed two fighters from Haftar’s forces, and then they took military vehicles and escaped through the desert for 800 km without one single warplane depicting them and bombing their convoy.
Experience will answer all the questions the Libyans have in mind. Anyone can visit Derna and stay in it for however long they please, and then they will report the real image of Derna residents, their living conditions, and the city’s current stability.
Earlier, one journalist visited Derna and wrote about it in the foreign newspapers; in addition, a foreign press team was trying to go to Derna, but was prevented and detained in Tobruk airport before they were sent back to Tripoli.
We call on all journalists and reporters as well as local TV channels’ correspondents to take up their profession roles and report the real image of Derna because their messages will reach the public according to their full reports and documentation of the daily routines in Derna.
Since we were fighting IS militants, Haftar’s forces developed the habit of cutting our supplies and hindering their arrival to Derna. One essential case in point was when they detained an ambulance, which was carrying wounded persons, and robbed it on the road, let alone preventing trucks loaded with flour and others with fuel from arriving in Derna.
Now that Derna has been freed from Daesh and new roads have been opened in the city, we are no longer in need for the roads that are controlled by Haftar’s forces.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Libya Observer