Libya general's forces linked to war crimes


Members of the Libyan National Army (LNA), also known as the forces loyal to Marshal Khalifa Haftar, patrol on January 28, 2017.

TRIPOLI - Forces commanded by a Libyan military strongman fighting to oust jihadists from second city Benghazi may have committed war crimes, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.

The self-styled Libyan National Army, commanded by strongman Khalifa Haftar, controls much of eastern Libya and is battling an array of jihadist groups who seized Benghazi in 2014.

The LNA announced on Saturday that "terrorist groups" had fled their last stronghold in Benghazi and that its forces were in full control of the city.

Human Rights Watch said the LNA "may have committed war crimes, including killing and beating civilians and summarily executing and desecrating bodies of opposition fighters," in the eastern city over the weekend.

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The New York-based group urged Haftar to order a "full and transparent investigation" into the alleged crimes.

"The LNA leadership needs to respond urgently to these deeply disturbing allegations by investigating the suspected perpetrators, including senior military commanders who may bear individual responsibility," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director of the New York-based group.

Persistent chaos in Libya since the 2011 ouster and killing of dictator Muammar Gaddafi has seen a range of armed groups battle for control of the country.