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.