El Agheila

El Agheila (Arabic: العقيلة al-'Uqaylah‎) is a coastal city at the southern end of the Gulf of Sidra in far western Cyrenaica, Libya. In 1988 it was placed in Ajdabiya District; it was in that district until 1995. It was removed from Ajdabiya District in 1995 but in 2001 it was placed back into Ajdabiya District.[1] In 2007, El Agheila was placed within the enlarged Al Wahat District.

El Agheila


El Agheila is located in Libya
El Agheila
El Agheila
Location in Libya
Coordinates: 30°15′21″N 19°11′58″E / 30.25583°N 19.19944°E / 30.25583; 19.19944Coordinates: 30°15′21″N 19°11′58″E / 30.25583°N 19.19944°E / 30.25583; 19.19944
Country Libya
DistrictAl Wahat
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)

El Agheila is best known to history as the site of several Second World War battles during the North African Campaign.


Over ten thousand inmates were kept at the concentration camp in El Agheila.

El Agheila is the site of the Roman fortified town of Anabucis[2] and its Greek precursor Automala.[3]

During the Italian occupation of Libya the town was the site of an 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.[4]

World War IIEdit

Operation Crusader 18 November 1941 - 31 December 1941 El Agheila is on the lower left (Click to enlarge)

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 warEdit

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.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "الشعبيات بالجماهيرية" ("Districts of Libya") Website of the General People's Committee of Libya, from WebArchive dated 30 August 2006
  2. ^ Goodchild, R. G. (1951) "Boreum of Cyrenaica" The Journal of Roman Studies 41(1/2): pp. 11-16, p. 11
  3. ^ 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
  4. ^ Ham, Anthony (2002). East of Tripoli - Medinat Sultan to Ajdabiyya: Al-'Aghela. London: Lonely Planet. p. 154. ISBN 0864426992.