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Some 100 people have reportedly been killed since Friday (May 16th), when retired Libyan General Khalifa Haftar launched his unsanctioned offensive against armed extremist groups in Benghazi.
The move is dividing political and military figures. Libyan authorities accuse the retired general of attempting a coup against the GNC.
But some endorse his action because it targets armed extremists.
Supporters of Haftar’s operation include a former Ansar al-Sharia member.
“I and more than 50 other young men joined Ansar al-Sharia,” said A.N from Benghazi, who asked to be identified by just his initials, for fear of reprisal.
“We started working with them in charitable activities and began attending religious lessons, but we didn’t know that they were the ones carrying out the bombings and assassinations. When we knew that, we withdrew and left the group,” he told Magharebia.
He continued: “We’re now threatened and wanted by Ansar al-Sharia because in their views, we’re apostates,” he added. “They’re now hunting us down, one after the other.”
“They just kill those who quit, because they accuse them of kufr,” he added. “There are young men who are stuck with them.”
Many blame Ansar al-Sharia for the Benghazi violence and welcome any action taken against the group.
According to attorney Mohamed al-Ramli, 35, Ansar al-Sharia is “behind the killings, bombings and massacres targeting Libyans”.
“The foreign elements in Ansar al-Sharia are training the group in bombings and suicide operations under the pretext of jihad,” he added.
Other Libyans just want life in Benghazi to return to normal.
“We hope that the alliance of military personnel under the command of General Haftar will bring good and help us get rid of the terrorist operations that take place every day in Benghazi,” 29-year-old teacher Fatima al-Hasi said.
Source : Magharebia