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El Agheila (Arabic: العقيلة al-'Uqaylah) is a coastal city at the bottom of the Gulf of Sidra in far western Cyrenaica, Libya. In 1988 it was placed in Ajdabiya District; between 1995 and 2001 the district name is not known; however, it was again placed into Ajdabiya District in 2001. In 2007, El Agheila was placed within the enlarged Al Wahat District.
During the Italian occupation of Libya the town was the site of a Italian concentration camp for Bedouins. The camp was just south of town and housed over 10,000 inmates. Thousands of the Bedouins starved to death in the camp run by the Italian colonial troops.
World War II
In February 1941, El Agheila was taken by the British Western Desert Force following their destruction of the Italian Tenth Army in Operation Compass. The British halted there while most of the Western Desert Force was moved to deal with the Axis's invasion of Greece. This gave the German Afrika Korps under Erwin Rommel a chance to arrive and launch an offensive which retook El Agheila in March and drove the British all the way back to Tobruk and the Egyptian frontier. Rommel would further fortify the city and use it as a base for his operations. After being driven back from Tobruk following Operation Crusader in December 1941, the Afrika Korps fell back to El Agheila, halting their retreat and the British advance there.
In January 1942, Rommel launched a new offensive at El Agheila, which would again drive the British back towards Tobruk. This time he would capture Tobruk and advance into Egypt before being halted at El Alamein in July 1942 and decisively defeated there in November. The Afrika Korps was broken, and its retreating remnants gave up El Agheila for the final time to the advancing British Eighth Army in December 1942.
Libyan civil war
During the Libyan Civil War, the town was taken by anti-Gaddafi forces in early March, retaken by forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi in mid-March, and retaken again by NTC forces in late March only to be once again taken by government forces a couple of days later. It was retaken a third time by anti-Gaddafi forces in August.
- "الشعبيات بالجماهيرية" ("Districts of Libya") Website of the General People's Committee of Libya, from WebArchive dated 30 August 2006
- Goodchild, R. G. (1951) "Boreum of Cyrenaica" The Journal of Roman Studies 41(1/2): pp. 11-16, p. 11
- The site of Automala was found on a small promontory opposite the island of Bu Sceefa, a few kilometers west of el-Agheila. p. 16 of Goodchild, R. G. (1951) "Boreum of Cyrenaica" The Journal of Roman Studies 41(1/2): pp. 11-16
- Ham, Anthony (2002). East of Tripoli - Medinat Sultan to Ajdabiyya: Al-'Aghela. London: Lonely Planet. p. 154. ISBN 0864426992.