ISIS in Action and Other Jihadi Actors

On 18 March, the Libyan National Army (LNA) announced they had ‘liberated’ the ‘12 Flats’ area in Ganfuda, in south-west Benghazi.  Reports indicate that 7 LNA fighters and 43 jihadist fighters were killed in the final assault, including Ansar al-Sharia commanders Fawzi al-Faydi and Salem Shatwan. According to the LNA, the only remaining jihadist forces in Benghazi are now in Sabri and Souq al-Hout areas, in the city’s central district. On 17 March, there were reports that the LNA had started heavy airstrikes and shelling against jihadist positions in these areas.

On 18 March, LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari said the LNA had found a mass grave of jihadist fighters in Ganfuda. The grave contained the corpse of former Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC) leader Jamal Makhzoum as well as the corpses of Ansar al-Sharia commanders. The BRSC has confirmed Makhzoum was killed in Ganfuda.

A video was widely shared on Libyan social media appearing to show the decomposing body of Makhzoum strapped to the front of a vehicle then being paraded around by LNA fighters. Other photographs show the corpses of jihadist fighters, which also appear to have been exhumed, with LNA fighters posing and taking selfies with the bodies. Another video which has been circulated shows footage of a man, allegedly identified as Colonel Mahmoud Warfali, executing three kneeling prisoners

The exhumation was condemned by the Libyan Nation Commission for Human Rights (LNCHR) as a ‘heinous’ war crime. On 20 March, UN envoy to Libya Martin Kobler and the UK ambassador to Libya Peter Millet both condemned the mutilation of corpses and urged all parties to respect international law. On 20 March, Mismari said that cases of abuse and murder of prisoners were being referred to the military police under the LNA.

To read about the international community’s responses to jihadis in Libya this week, click here.  To read the Eye on ISIS team’s 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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Click the following link for a safe PDF copy: Majlis Shūrā Thūwār Binghāzī — The Epic Battles of Glory and the Martyrdom of the Commander Jalāl Makhzūm

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To inquire about a translation for this statement for a fee email: azelin@jihadology.net

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Click the following link for a safe PDF copy: Majlis Shūrā Thūwār Binghāzī — Martyrdom of the Media Activists ‘Isām al-Maghribī (al-Nibrās) and Sufyān Who Worked Within al-Sarāyā Media Center

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Source: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C7J1-FvW4AASBfe.jpg

To inquire about a translation for this statement for a fee email: azelin@jihadology.net

ISIS in Action and Other Jihadi Actors

On 9 March, Marine General Thomas Waldhauser, the head of US Africa Command (AFRICOM), warned the US Senate’s foreign affairs committee that Islamic State (ISIS) is regrouping in Libya. He said “The status of ISIS in Libya is they are right now regrouping. They’re in small numbers, small groups.” Waldhauser oversaw the US airstrikes in late January which killed around 80 ISIS fighters south of Sirte. The process of resettling displaced Sirte residents is ongoing, with more than 8600 families back in their homes.

On 13 March, the Libyan National Army (LNA) launched a major offensive to take control of the 12 Flats area of Ganfuda in Benghazi, the last enclave in Ganfuda still held by a coalition of jihadist fighters including the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC), Ansar al-Sharia and ISIS. An LNA spokesperson said that three LNA fighters were killed and four injured in the latest offensive, but that several BRSC fighters had also been killed. LNA fighter jets supported the offensive, according to the spokesperson, but the LNA advance is being held up by the presence of civilians in the area. BRSC commander Mohammed Nased Emhareb, BRSC fighters Ibrahim Dayhom and Anis al-Khomsi, and Naseeb Fannoush, an Ansar al-Sharia fighter from Derna, were reportedly among those killed during the recent fighting in the 12 Flats area.

On 14 March, LNA forces launched a counter attack against the Benghazi Defense Brigades (BDB) forces in the Oil Crescent. By the afternoon of 14 March, LNA spokesperson Ahmed al-Mismari claimed that the routed BDB forces had retreated to Misrata and Jufra, and that some had been captured. At least 21 LNA fighters were reportedly killed in the offensive. This figure is in addition to the 38 LNA fighters the LNA says have been killed since the BDB offensive started in the Oil Crescent on 3 March. The BDB has not released its casualty figures for this latest battle. The LNA claims to be back in control of Ras Lanuf and Sidra oil ports following intense fighting with the BDB. Photos have emerged of LNA fighters at these ports that seem to confirm this.

The LNA attack followed a large deployment of LNA forces, reportedly comprising over 3,000 armed vehicles, being mobilised in and around Brega, Agilah and Bishr. The LNA also conducted airstrikes daily throughout last week against BDB targets near these ports and in neighbouring towns of Bin Jawwad and Nawfaliyah. On 12 March, five BDB fighters (3 from Benghazi and 2 from Gharyan) were killed in LNA airstrikes against BDB positions in Sidra and Ras Lanuf.

On 12 March, the BDB said its political goal is to protect the right of return for families and former revolutionaries displaced from Benghazi by Khalifa Haftar, while also vowing to fight terrorism and protect Libya’s neighbours. From the LNA’s perspective, the BDB is seen as an extension of the extremist jihadists fighting against the LNA in Benghazi and Derna, in alliance with Islamic State (ISIS) and Ansar al-Sharia. The LNA has accused many tribal and social forces who switched allegiance from the LNA to the BDB of being as traitors.

On 11 March, local sources reported that two LNA fighters were beheaded by the BDB in Ras Lanuf.  The LNA Sirte operations room has eulogized the two fighters. UK ambassador to Libya Peter Millet condemned the killings. Local sources report that Younes al-Faidi, who was formerly aligned with Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi, is now a commander in the Benghazi Defense Brigades.

A weekly update of the actions of ISIS and other jihadi groups, the Western response, and developments pertaining to Libya’s other militias is available by subscribing here.  To read about Western countries’ responses to jihadis in Libya this week, 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. To view EOIL’s new promotional video, click here.

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ISIS in Action

On 3 March, a loose alliance of Islamist-affiliated militias, including the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB), former Ibrahim Jadhran loyalists and units from other allied factions (some reportedly affiliated with al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Sharia) launched a multi-pronged attack on the Oil Crescent. They advanced from their bases in Jufra towards Nawfaliya then pushed east towards the oil ports of Sidra and Ras Lanuf.

The Libyan National Army (LNA), which has controlled the Oil Crescent ports since September last year, attempted to push back the BDB with airstrikes. However, the airstrikes failed to halt the BDB advance, leading the LNA to withdraw its forces from Sidra and Ras Lanuf.  The BDB pushed further east towards Brega. At the time of writing the frontline between the two forces is at al-Uqaylah, around 50km west of Marsa Brega oil port.

BDB commander Mustafa Sharksi said “our goal is to rescue Benghazi from Haftar and return displaced families to their homes.”  The LNA siege against jihadist fighters from the Benghazi Revolutionary Shura Council, Ansar al-Sharia and Islamic State in the 12 Flats area of Ganfuda in Benghazi is ongoing, despite the LNA declaring Ganfuda liberated from jihadist control over a month ago. Sharksi said that the BDB would only push on to Benghazi once another force had been sent by the National Oil Corporation (NOC) to take over the oil ports it has seized.

Some members of the Tobruq-based House of Representatives (HoR) issued a statement accusing Qatar and Turkey of sponsoring and supplying advanced military equipment to the BDB. Both countries deny this.

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 in Libya, click here. And to read their explanation of the developments within the anti-ISIS Coalition of Libyan militias, hereclick 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. To view EOIL’s new promotional video, click here.

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