GNA-aligned forces from Misrata managed to take full control of Sirte port’s and eastern coastline in Sawawa on 10 June. Libyan navy vessels blockaded the port as GNA forces advanced from the southeast, aided by airstrikes throughout last week. ISIS is currently hemmed into 20 square kilometers at Sirte’s center. Further, ISIS has lost control of all its coastal territory and the port will likely be used as a key transport route for GNA forces until ISIS is eliminated.
Major gains achieved by the GNA’s Misratan-led Bunyan Marsus operations room against ISIS, indicate the easier part in the conquest of Sirte is finished and the harder part is just beginning. Reports indicate that Bunyan Marsus forces restricted ISIS militants to a 20 square kilometer area in the centre of the city, and retook the strategic Sirte port and the main coastal road east of Sirte on 10 June. On the eastern side of Sirte, Petroleum Facilities Guard units and Awlad Suleiman tribal fighters managed to fully capture the town of Harawah on 9 June, and advance to the 50km checkpoint east of Sirte.
However, major advances have now seemingly come to an end, with indications that ISIS is about to launch intensive urban guerrilla warfare attacks, including suicide VBIEDs. On 11-12 June, ISIS conducted more than five suicide attacks against Bunyan Marsus fighters. One attack targeted the field hospital located 50km west of Sirte killing four staff. Two suicide attacks were conducted by ISIS to retake the port on 12 June, but were neutralized before hitting their targets. Another VBIED attack was conducted on 13 June in Gasr Abu Hadi 20 kilometres south of Sirte, an area taken by Bunyan Marsus last week. The ISIS attacks behind GNA front lines indicate that full control has not yet been established by the GNA’s forces, and that ISIS continues to have both presence and ability to draw in and exhaust it opponents at different locations inside the city.
A weekly update of ISIS’s actions, the Western response, and developments pertaining to Libya’s other militias is available by subscribing here. To read about Western countries’ responses to ISIS in Libya this week, click here. To read the Eye on ISIS in Libya Team’s blog post about the actions of other jihadi actors, click here. And to read their explanation of the developments within the anti-ISIS Coalition of Libyan militias, click here.