Battles continue in the final area (Khribish) in Sabri district of Benghazi, where a number of fighters and families are now still believed to be holding out, despite General Haftar’s announcement of official victory in Benghazi on 5 July. 10 LNA fighters were killed last week according to pro-LNA media. This raises the number of reported fatalities on the LNA’s side up to almost 50 soldiers, with a larger number of injuries since the liberation proclamation. The surrounding area remains a sea of landmines, IEDs and booby traps, and 19 civilians were reported killed throughout last week by ordinance.

Although many in Benghazi are grateful for the defeat of ISIS, rampant corruption, neglect of urgent post-war needs, and the lack of financial resources fuel instability in Benghazi. Signs of local tensions and discontent are increasing and threaten, or at least challenge, Haftar’s control on stability and ability to keep ISIS and other extremists out of the city.

Other Jihadi Actors

Skirmishes between Pro-GNA and hardliner militias in Tripoli continued this week, ending as the GNA-aligned militias successfully ousted hardliner militias from their positions in eastern Tripoli. Libyan press and international media mistakenly reported that the hardline forces originated from Misrata, but in reality the militias were affiliated with extreme Islamist factions — including the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB) and militias defeated in Tripoli last May. The Misratan municipal council and other political leaders denounced the operation and media coverage mistaking Misratan involvement.

Pro-GNA militias led by Haithem Tajouri reported the loss of 10 fighters in battles that lasted for three days. The Pro-GNA Tripoli Revolutionary Brigade Militia, in the guise of the Ministry of Interior’s (MOI) Central Security Department, now controls territory up to 40 km east of the capital, as well as a large part of Tripoli itself.

The low-intensity conflict between the LNA and the Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council (DMSC) coalition that controls the city continued this week absent of any major changes. With the support of local communities, LNA units advanced their positions towards Derna from the West. LNA sources have disputed prolific media coverage of airstrikes and high-level military preparations by the LNA for a full scale assault of 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, and to read about 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.

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ISIS in Action

On 24 June, forces belonging to the GNA-aligned, Misrata-led al-Bunyan al-Marsus (BM) forces reportedly captured an ISIS fighter, while another fighter escaped, during a BM operation to retrieve hijacked fuel trucks in Wadi Bay, south of Sirte.

On 20 June, a lone-wolf attacker, allegedly either a Sudanese or Chadian national potentially tied to ISIS (though the group hasn’t taken any official credit for the attempt), detonated a suicide vest at the Sidra gate checkpoint held by Libyan National Army (LNA) fighters. He killed himself and injured another. Heavy artillery including 17 tank shells and an anti-air rocket were later discovered rigged to his vehicle, leading some to believe that the attacker’s initial target may have been the oil facilities rather than LNA fighters.

Last week, the Anas Dabbashi brigade – the formidable local militia guarding Mellitah complex historically aligned with Islamist-affiliated hardliner faction – as well as other local security and municipal sources in Sabratha, warned of the rising terrorist threat posed by Islamic State (IS) affiliates and other extremists in the region, thought to be located in areas south of Sabratha.

Other Jihadi Actors

On 23 June, the Benghazi Defense Brigade (BDB), an Islamist and Misratan aligned force which attacked the Oil Crescent ports in March, announced it will dissolve itself and that some members will enlist in the formation of a legitimate Libyan army. The group cited a desire to save Libya from further bloodshed and foreign involvement in Libya as justification for their disbanding. In actuality, the BDB disbanded itself so as to best cope with its wholesale defeat by Haftar’s forces in Jufra over the past weeks. The BDB was the only Libyan entity (as opposed to individuals) implicated by Gulf countries for terror links to Qatar as part of the regional diplomatic embargo against the country. According to high ranking members, the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood is also set to be dissolved.

Throughout last week the Libyan National Army (LNA) continued its pressurized advances in Benghazi, fully claiming control over the Souq al-Hout area and the main central square, leaving only Sabri under the control of the jihadists. The final battle between the LNA and the remaining jihadist fighters is being fought on a house-to-house basis within a 9km square zone of the Sabri area. The LNA announced that more than 3,800 mines and IEDs were defused in Sabri and Souq al-Hout areas throughout last week.

Local sources report ongoing preparations by both hardliners and pro-GNA militias in Tripoli for a new military offensive to retake control of the capital, taking advantage of the regional Qatar embargo and the national reshuffling of alliances on the other. The Grand Mufti, the spiritual figurehead for many of the hard-liner Islamist factions, has again called on revolutionaries to reassemble and save the ‘dying’ revolution. On 21 June, the control tower of Tripoli’s Mitiga Airport’s control tower was attacked by unspecified group overnight, causing a flight to be diverted to Misrata. Sources disagree on whether the attack was spurred by local militias or if its intent was to detain people arriving on these flights in Misrata.  The same day, Munir Mohammed Abu Zeid, a hardliner loyalist affiliated with the General National Congress’ (GNC) former National Salvation Government and leader of the ‘Shield Rahba Camp’ in Tajoura, was assassinated in Tripoli’s Zawiyya Dahmani area.

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, and to read about 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.

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Arabic:

Sarāyā al-Dafā’ ‘an Binghāzī — Message to the Secretary-General of the United Nations Regarding Egyptian-Emirati Interference in Libyan Affairs

English:

Sarāyā al-Dafā’ ‘an Binghāzī- Message to the Secretary-General of the United Nations Regarding Egyptian-Emirati Interference in Libyan Affairs (En)

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Source: Telegram

On 6 June, the Libyan National Army (LNA) affiliated 116 Brigade said it had apprehended a jihadist cell, composed of fighters who fled from Benghazi, during an anti-terrorism raid in Sebha. The 166 Brigade, which is led by Masud al-Jeddi, claimed that one of those arrested, Masoud al-Tarhouni aka Abu Uwais al-Libi, was an IS member and resident of the Salmani area in Benghazi. On 10 June, one of the four IS members said to have been killed on 26 May by local security forces from Bani Walid was identified as Derna resident Abdul Moeed Jaber al-Kawwash, aka Nimir al-Dernawi. Al-Kawwash, who is reportedly only 17 years old, travelled to fight in Syria in 2013 before returning to Derna in 2014 after injury.

On 7 June, the Misrata Municipal Council issued a statement banning the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB) from re-entering Misrata city with their weapons and demanding that the BDB hand over individuals implicated in terrorism to state authorities. On 6 June, leaders of the GNA-aligned, Misratan-led al-Bunyan al-Marsus Operations Room, the Misrata Military Council, and the Municipal Council joined forces to order BDB units positioned at the Baghla junction, located on the road south of Abu Grein, to disband, surrender their weapons and handover their leader, Mustafa al-Sharksi.  On 9 June, another video was released depicting Captain Mahmoud al-Werfalli, a hardliner Salafist commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) Special Forces (Saiqa), ordering the execution of four prisoners.

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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Arabic:

Sarāyā al-Dafā’ ‘an Binghāzī — Response to the Classification of the Four Countries That Put Sarāyā al-Dafā’ ‘an Binghāzī on the Terrorism List

English:

Sarāyā al-Dafā’ ‘an Binghāzī — Response to the Classification of the Four Countries That Put Sarāyā al-Dafā’ ‘an Binghāzī on the Terrorism List (En)

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Source: Telegram

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

IS in Action and Other Jihadist Actors

On 14 May, three fuel trucks were seized by IS fighters on the road from Abu Grien to Jufra, the same road where the IS attack on Misratan fighters took place on 7 May. The hijacking took place near the Great Man Made River crossing at Wadi Bey, south west of Sirte, close to where US airstrikes hit an IS camp in February.

Local sources say that leaders of the Government of National Accord (GNA) aligned Misratan al-Bunyan al-Marsus forces that fought against IS in Sirte received threats from IS social media and phone accounts. Messages accused them of being “infidels assisting imperialists” and that IS’s next operation would be called ‘Hadm al-Aswar fe Ard al-Mukhtar’, translated as ‘Breaking the Walls in the Land of [Omar] al-Mukhtar’. IS messages reportedly stated that IS sleeper cells were ‘awake’ in the mountainous desert regions and reminded them of IS’s feats in Mosul following their re-emergence after the sahwa and surge, as published in their video ‘Salil al-Sawarem #4’ a few years ago.

Libyan National Army (LNA) forces continued to launch heavy airstrikes against jihadist fighters besieged in Sabri and Souq al-Hout in Benghazi last week. On 12 May, Noor al-Din al-Talhi, a Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC) fighter and former member of Libya Shield 1 brigade, was reportedly killed in Souq al-Hout in Benghazi during a battle with the LNA. According to local sources, al-Talhi was the administrator for the social media account ‘Al-Shaab Kollah Kan Fe Al-Jabha’ and has younger siblings also fighting with jihadists in Benghazi.

On 13 May, Faraj Juma al-Sallabi, a member of the BRSC and Libya Shield 1 brigade, was killed in the fighting. Sallabi’s family members hold prominent positions in the BRSC alliance. His younger brother Mohammed (aka Jeryo) was head of the Shield’s internal security office in Souq al-Hout. He was injured in 2015 during a battle with the LNA. Another brother Malek also fought as part of the BRSC alliance. Their elder brother Abdullah Sallabi took care of medical arrangements for Libya Shield fighters in Egypt during the 2011 uprisings and is now reportedly operating in Tunis.