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BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - Five East Libyan force soldiers were killed in clashes with Islamist-led rivals holed up on the edge of a recently recaptured district of Benghazi, a military spokesman said.

Forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar, head of the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA), have been fighting Islamists and other opponents in Benghazi since 2014. They have secured most of the city, but have suffered heavy casualties as they try to gain control of a final few areas.

After capturing an area that they had long besieged in the southwestern district of Ganfouda late last month, they have been fighting to force rival fighters from some half-constructed buildings known as the "12 Blocks".

Milad al-Zwai, an LNA spokesman, said late on Wednesday that the "first phase" of securing the buildings had been completed after heavy clashes and air strikes.

The LNA still faces armed resistance in two neighbourhoods in northern Benghazi, Souq al-Hout and Sabri.

(Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli; editing by Ralph Boulton; Writing by Aidan Lewis)

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