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Libya: IS Fighters Killed in Sirte Mostly Came From Derna

ISIS IN ACTION 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.

Attribution 2.0 Generic Flickr: Day Donaldson
Attribution 2.0 Generic Flickr: Day Donaldson

On 12 December, Sirte’s municipal council held mayoral elections in Tripoli, electing Mukhtar al-Maadani as the new mayor of Sirte. However, this sparked controversy among the BM forces as al-Maadani is believed to be loyal to Khalifa Haftar and they fear he will hand control of Sirte over to Haftar’s forces. As a result, on 13 December, the BM Operations Room appointed Brig. Ahmed Abu Shahma as military governor of Sirte.

WESTERN RESPONSE On 6 December, UN Envoy to Libya Martin Kobler told the UN Security Council (UNSC) that although the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) was ‘the only solution’ to the Libyan problem, its terms were ‘not set in stone’. This raises the possibility that the terms of the LPA may be renegotiated. Any reworking of the LPA will presumably favour General Khalifa Haftar given his increased political leverage since seizing and maintaining control over the oil crescent, not to mention his support from Egypt and Russia. Kobler presented a 6 point plan to the UNSC designed to help ensure the implementation of the LPA. He also raised concerns over the dangerous state of the Libyan economy. According to media reports, the UN Mission for Libya (UNSMIL) has postponed the next meeting between pro and anti-GNA political representatives of the Political Dialogue Group which was scheduled for 17 December.

Libya-Analysis is the most read independent English-language blog on Libyan affairs. It is run by Jason Pack, founder of EyeOnISISinLibya.com and researcher of World History at Cambridge University

This article was used with explicit permission from the author.