In May, former Libyan general Khalifa Haftar launched a widespread operation to "cleanse" Benghazi of jihadist groups. The offensive was initially successful, as the Washington Post noted, "Many Libyans applauded Hifter’s push to drive extremists out of the eastern city of Benghazi when he first announced the military operation in May. After suffering years of armed attacks with little response from the government, Libyans saw in Hifter a bold figure willing to hit back at the gunmen stalking their streets."
An article at War on the Rocks notes that Haftar saw some major early defections. A Libyan special forces brigade defected to Haftar and shortly thereafter many defections from the Libyan air force (including the commander of the air force). However, Haftar and the Benghazi groups he went after quickly reached a stalemate. And then the tide turned on Haftar.
In late July, the al Qaeda-affiliated Ansar al Sharia and the coalition it fights under, the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council, captured a key Libyan special forces base. In this capture, they took tons of weapons, ammunition, and vehicles to use in their "counteroffensive" on Haftar. One picture from this capture can be seen below; in it is a large cache of weapons captured by Ansar al Sharia and its allies. Other pictures show more weapons and one picture shows captured tanks.
After more bases fell to the Shura Council, Colonel Wanis Bukhamada, the head of the Haftar-aligned Libyan special forces, withdrew his units from bases in Benghazi. Just two days later in a move that shows just how much Ansar al Sharia and its allies (which includes the February 17th Brigade, which at one point was responsible for security at the US Consulate in Benghazi) control in Benghazi, they began enacting Sharia, or Islamic law, in these territories.
The Shura council also captured Sidi Mansour, an area of Benghazi close to Benina International Airport, and the main road connecting Benghazi and Benina. The Shura Council also controls another key area close to the airport, Sidi Faraj, but this area is heavily contested between forces of Haftar and forces of the Shura council. Another contested area is Benina, itself. Benina is being used as Haftar as his main stronghold, according to War on the Rocks.
In another map made by @MaliWitness, he shows how the Shura council is currently attacking Benina.
Having control of Sidi Mansour, Sidi Faraj and the main road to Benina allows the Shura Council to attack the airport on three sides. Not only that, but easier access to launch multiple vehicular suicide bombings. In a recent article of mine at The Long War Journal, I report that the Shura Council used a "series of suicide bombings" to assault one of Haftar's last remaining bases in Benghazi. In the same article, I discuss how Ansar al Sharia is connected to the al Qaeda network. In one point, I mention how an Ansar leader, Wisam bin Hamid, has personally met with infamous al Qaeda commander Mokhtar Belmokhtar. I also used a Library of Congress report to explain that bin Hamid, "is likely part of "al Qaeda's clandestine network in Libya." That same network is headed by al Qaeda operatives who report to al Qaeda's senior leadership in Pakistan, including Ayman al Zawahiri."
Despite attacking the Benina Airport for the 5th consecutive day yesterday, Haftar's forces launched multiple airstrikes that at least slowed down the assault. However, it has been reported that more airstrikes have taken place today in the Bu'atni district of Benghazi, a district being used by the Shura Council in the attack against Benina.
As of the writing of this post, it is unsure if Benina will fall. However, with at least 6 days of assaults on the base, this signals that the Shura Council is making a serious attempt to capture it. If and when Benina falls, it would be one of the most significant turning points in Benghazi since Haftar's operation began many months ago. Undoubtedly, its fall would be a key defeat for Haftar and would pave the way for the Shura Council, which includes the al Qaeda-affiliated Ansar al Sharia, to control the entirety of the city.