ISIS IN ACTION
ISIS media claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack on a Libyan National Army (LNA) checkpoint at the entrance of al-Nawfaliya town, on 31 August. The attack 100 km east of Sirte, left four dead and eight others injured. It was reported that ISIS units moved into al-Teysseen, a town 90 km east of Sirte, on 1 September. They allegedly held an Eid prayer in the local mosque and took positions in the town. According to local sources, three ‘Madkhali’ Salafists (loyal to Haftar’s LNA) were abducted by ISIS around this time.
The LNA air force launched a series of airstrikes from Ras Lanuf airstrip on 2 September, which targeted ISIS positions in the area of Ain Taqrift, between Sirte and Zillah. As a result, the ISIS units reportedly withdrew southwest towards the desert valleys. LNA ground forces are purportedly moving westwards towards Sirte to Um al-Qandil– ISIS elements and locals were reported in that area on 3 September.
Meanwhile, the predominantly Misratan, GNA-aligned al-Bunyan al-Marsus (BM) forces that oppose the LNA, are positioned in the areas around Gate 17, east of Sirte. They continue to scour the areas south and south-west of Sirte for IS elements. The LNA sent a substantial amount of troops to fortify various positions in the Oil Crescent throughout the last week, including the Shuhada al-Zawiya armored brigade, led by General Jamal Zahawi from Benghazi.
The French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian visited Libya on 4 September, meeting first with GNA PM Fayez al-Sarraj as well as Abdulrahman Swelli, head of the parliamentary council in Tripoli. The FM is set to visit Misrata and Benghazi later in the week and will speak with rival factions during the trip, including LNA Commander Khalifa Haftar and the heads of the eastern based parliament.
This can be seen as an extension of Emmanuel Macron’s push for a deeper French role in bringing Libyan factions together with the prospect of ending militant violence and easing Europe’s migrant crisis which began with breakthrough talks between Sarraj and Haftar in Paris this summer. A French diplomatic source said that “the minister wants to consolidate this agreement by getting the parties not invited in July to support it,” and that the visit was intended to dovetail with efforts by U.N. Envoy to Libya Ghassan Salamé to announce a road map to elections during the coming U.N. General Assembly.
This article was republished with explicit permission from the author.