ISIS in Action

On 3 January, an explosion destroyed an arms cache in Mizdah, a town situated 200km south of Tripoli. The perpetrators are as yet unknown, but ISIS is thought to be implicated. Reports from locals in the area indicate that ISIS fighters are reorganizing in south-western Libya along the Man Made River route between Bani Walid and Sebha. Last week, an attempt was made to sabotage the Man Made River (MMR) pipeline between al-Shuwarif and Bani Walid. The saboteurs used tank shells to blow a hole in the pipeline. There are reports of ISIS mobilizing forces near Bani Walid and Nesmah. In response, a new anti-ISIS tribal coalition has been formed between Awlad Busif, Zintan, and Werfalla in south-west Libya. These tribes are reportedly organizing their ranks to defend their territory from ISIS.

On 4 January, an ISIS fighter from Derna conducted a suicide bombing against Government of National Accord (GNA) aligned al-Bunyan al-Marsus forces in the eastern area of Sirte, however no casualties were reported. On 8 January, an ISIS member captured by the LNA stated on Libyan television that Tunisian journalists Sofiane Chourabi and Nadher Guetari, who have been missing in Libya since 2014, are both dead. Documents found by the LNA during their raids in Ganfuda over the last two weeks appear to show that the decision to kill the journalists was made by ISIS clerics, and that both were executed in Derna.

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.

To read all four sections of this week’s Eye on ISIS in Libya report, click here. To subscribe to receive this report weekly into your inbox, sign up on the subscribe page.

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ISIS in Action

Sources report there is evidence of an ISIS presence in the area between Bin Walid, Brak al-Shati and Sebha in southern Libya. ISIS fighters reportedly use the desert roads which connect to the Man Made River pipeline network to move between areas, raid supplies, and establish checkpoints. These ISIS fighters reportedly include high profile leaders who managed to escape from Sirte before or during the Misratan-led offensive against the city. There are also reports that training and base camps have been set up in the desert, although no confirmed reconnaissance evidence has yet verified this information.

In Sirte, Brigade 604, a Salafist brigade nominally affiliated with the Misratan al-Bunyan al-Marsus (BM) forces, has been tasked with securing the city’s main installations and residential areas.  However, this has caused some tensions within Misrata as this brigade is believed to be close to Haftar. Threats still remain in Sirte from booby traps, IEDs and attacks by any remnant ISIS fighters.

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.

To read all four sections of this week’s Eye on ISIS in Libya report, click here. To subscribe to receive this report weekly into your inbox, sign up on the subscribe page.

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ISIS in Action

On 20 and 23 December, ISIS fighters reportedly attacked the main control station of the Man Made River pipe system. The site is located 50km north of the town of al-Shuwarif, situated on the road between Tripoli and Sebha. The site currently lies within the domain of Libyan National Army (LNA) forces who took control of the area two weeks ago, under the command of Colonel Bin Nayel.  ISIS fighters plundered a lot of material from the station before departing. On 25 December, the LNA spokesperson al-Mesmari announced that the LNA had driven the ISIS fighters away and now control the station.

On 21 December, the mayor of Khoms announced that the beheading of a family which took place last month in the town was not done by Islamic State (ISIS) as originally believed. The mayor said that the perpetrator falsely attributed the murder to ISIS by to evade arrest.

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 explanationhere of the developments within the anti-ISIS Coalition of Libyan militias, click here.

To read all four sections of this week’s Eye on ISIS in Libya report, click here. To subscribe to receive this report weekly into your inbox, sign up on the subscribe page.

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ISIS in Action

On 17 December, the Government of National Accord’s (GNA) Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj officially declared the military operation against Islamic State (ISIS) in Sirte complete and victorious. Although the city is now under the control of the Misratan-led al-Bunyan al-Marsus (BM) forces, threats still remain from booby traps, IEDs and remnant ISIS fighters. Mine clearance operations are ongoing, as well as the collection of corpses and the sanitisation of the city.

On 12 December, Mukhtar al-Madani was elected by the Sirte Municpal Council as the city’s local mayor. A day later, BM commanders appointed Brigadier Ahmed Abu Shahma as ‘military governor’ of Sirte in an apparent reaction to the election of a ‘pro Haftar’ mayor.

US Africa Command (AFRICOM) said last week that Operation Odyssey Lightening continues despite the official victory against ISIS. According to media reports, AFRICOM is continuing to monitor Sirte and its environs, in coordination with the GNA, and to provide the support needed to clear 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.

To read all four sections of this week’s Eye on ISIS in Libya report, click here. To subscribe to receive this report weekly into your inbox, sign up on the subscribe page.

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ISIS in Action

On 6 December, the Government of National Accord (GNA)-aligned Misratan-led al-Bunyan al-Marsus (BM) forces celebrated the takeover of the final ISIS held area in Sirte (al-Jiza al-Bahriya).  Footage and photographs showed BM forces rescuing the last groups of women and children who had been held by ISIS in this area. BM forces also arrested Fozy al-Ayat, the ISIS commander of al-Jiza al-Bahriya, and the brother of Waleed al-Furjani, an important ISIS commander.  This marks the territorial defeat of ISIS in Sirte, however full control has not yet been formally announced. The search for any remaining ISIS fighters in the area is ongoing and there are still a high number of mines and IEDs littered throughout the city. There is a high risk of ISIS fighters conducting guerrilla or terrorist-style attacks in Sirte and the surrounding area.

As the bodies of ISIS fighters are collected in Sirte (over 400 bodies have reportedly been collected in the past few days), many are being identified as being from Derna. These are likely to be ISIS fighters who were originally stationed in Derna but withdrew on 19 April from the battle against the Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council (DMSC) and Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) in the city. However, local informed sources say that there are still a large number of Dernawi fighters who remain missing and unaccounted for, indicating that these fighters may have escaped from Sirte and may still present a threat to Derna.

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.

To read all four sections of this week’s Eye on ISIS in Libya report, click here. To subscribe to receive this report weekly into your inbox, sign up on the subscribe page.

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ISIS in Action

On 25 November, four members of a single family were beheaded in their house in Khoms, with graffiti left behind claiming ISIS was responsible. The motive and perpetrators of the attack are unknown, but locals say that the family belongs to a branch of Salafism whose members have had an active role fighting against ISIS in Sirte. This incident follows an attack last month on another leading Salafist in Khoms, whose wife died in the attack. These attacks could point to increased tensions between Salafists (Madkhalis) and ISIS or al-Qaeda sympathisers in the region.

In Sirte, the GNA-affiliated al-Bunyan al-Marsus (BM) fighters are slowly blasting their way through the remaining buildings in Sirte’s al-Jiza al-Bahriya district. This is the last ISIS enclave in the city and now reportedly consists of only a few dozen buildings. However, BM forces who are advancing house-by-house continue to suffer casualties and are impeded by booby traps and mines. ISIS has published reports claiming it has killed large numbers of BM forces but this is likely to be propaganda to promote a perception of its resistance on the ground.

US AFRICOM reported that on 22 November it conducted nine airstrikes against ISIS targets in Sirte. These latest strikes brings the total Operation Odyssey Lightning airstrikes to 420.

On 26 November, the LNA defeated an ISIS assault against its forces in Abu Sneeb, an area in southern Benghazi. ISIS published photographs of its fighters in these clashes.

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.

To read all four sections of this week’s Eye on ISIS in Libya report, click here. To subscribe to receive this report weekly into your inbox, sign up on the subscribe page.

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ISIS in Action

On 16 November and 19 November, the Misratan-led al-Bunyan al-Marsus (BM) forces aligned with the GNA suffered losses as ISIS fighters managed to launch commando missions against the forces. With more than 650 BM fighters killed and 3,000 injured since the battle for Sirte began, the BM operations room has largely ceased publishing casualty reports. The death toll for the ISIS fighters is not known. The remaining ISIS fighters in Sirte are held up in al-Jiza al-Bahriya, the final area ISIS enclave, and on 21 November BM forces said that they had managed to dislodge ISIS fighters from a fortified school in the area which the militants had fiercely defended.

On 16 November, ISIS published images which it claims are of an ISIS checkpoint in an open road area south west of Sirte. This indicates that ISIS may have shifted its strategy, dispersing southwards from the siege in Sirte to find refuge in the desert and regroup in order to launch counterattacks. There have long been fears that many ISIS fighters have slipped out of Sirte, meaning that reclaiming Sirte could be a hollow victory. This tactic follows similar ISIS strategies in Syria and Iraq.

In an interview with American news outlet Stars and Stripes last week, AFRICOM’s Gen. Thomas Waldhauser discussed AFRICOM’s ongoing efforts to monitor the movements of ISIS fighters outside Sirte. He said “We need to leverage that success (in Sirte) by watching where these individuals go, keeping track of where they are, because what we don’t want them to do is re-emerge, come back, attack Tripoli, attack the forces who are in Sirte from behind.” He added, “We have to continue to develop those targets and have certainty of who we are seeing and what the activities are. We just need to have that level of certainty if we decide to strike outside the limits of Sirte.”

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.

To read all four sections of this week’s Eye on ISIS in Libya report, click here. To subscribe to receive this report weekly into your inbox, sign up on the subscribe page.

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The spokesperson for the Misratan-led al-Bunyan al-Marsus (BM) forces aligned with the GNA said this week that the area in Sirte controlled by ISIS fighters is ‘less than the size of a football pitch’. BM forces said they are delaying a final push into the remaining ISIS enclave in al-Jiza al-Bahriya in order to evacuate any civilians being used as human shields. They do not want to use airstrikes against ISIS positions if there is a risk of hitting civilians.

US media has reported that AFRICOM is now analysing intelligence on ISIS fighters who escaped Sirte before or during the offensive and has begun laying the groundwork for expanded air attacks to follow and kill them as part of a final push by the Obama administration. US commanders are concerned that these ISIS fighters may regroup outside Sirte and elsewhere to launch pinpoint counter attacks against the BM forces.

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.

To read all four sections of this week’s Eye on ISIS in Libya report, click here. To subscribe to receive this report weekly into your inbox, sign up on the subscribe page.

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ISIS In Action

In Sirte, there was a lull in fighting for most of last week. Then, on 2 October, after ten early morning airstrikes launched by aircraft from Misrata’s air base academy, the Misratan-led Bunyan al-Marsus (BM) forces attempted a renewed assault on the remaining ISIS stronghold of Hay Al Gizah, a roughly one square kilometre residential area in the northeast of the city. BM forces suffered heavy losses: 8 fighters died and 50 were injured in the assault, although BM forces said that as many as 55 ISIS militants were killed. These figures have not been confirmed. Many ISIS militants also appear to have died during a counterattack by the group toward Sirte port. It seems ISIS fighters are still able to access and enter areas of the city controlled by BM forces.  BM also said its forces were searching for another ISIS unit who were trying to make their escape out of the city.

On 2 October, Jeroen Oerlemans, a Dutch photojournalist, was killed in Sirte. He was reportedly shot in the chest by an ISIS sniper in the Al Zafaraan area of Sirte, a neighbourhood which had supposedly been liberated from ISIS forces. Oerlemans was taken from the Sirte frontline to Misrata hospital, where doctors pronounced him dead.

In Benghazi, ISIS’ media arm continues to publish photo galleries of fighting between jihadists and LNA fighters. The latest batch of photographs released on 29 September showed the use of UAV’s being used to target LNA positions with 120mm mortar shells in the Amarat Al Sinya district.

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.

To read all four sections of this week’s Eye on ISIS in Libya report, click here. To subscribe to receive this report weekly into your inbox, sign up on the subscribe page.

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