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.