ISIS IN ACTION
On 7 May, ISIS’s official media arm claimed responsibility for an ambush of fighters belonging to the Government of National Accord (GNA) affiliated Misratan Third Force 100km south-west of Sirte. The Misratans were attacked in the al-Loud agricultural district as they were being transported by bus from Jufra to Misrata. Two Misratans were killed and one was injured in the assault. This is the first official operation claimed by ISIS since its defeat at the hands of the Misratan-led al-Bunyan al-Marsus coalition in Sirte in December.
Many Misratans are angry at what they see as an ‘ill-fated alliance’ between moderate Misratans and the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB). The BDB have withdrawn from Jufra to camp elsewhere in the desert south of Sirte. One of the BDB’s commanders, al-Saadi al-Nawfali, is known to have been a former leader of Ansar al-Sharia in Ajdabiya and is believed to be closely connected with Libyans who joined ISIS.
Last week, a new video was published showing the execution of an Algerian ISIS fighter by Captain Mahmood al-Werfalli, a notorious field commander of the Libyan National Army’s (LNA) Saiqa Special Forces. The ISIS fighter is believed to be Milood Abu Azzaz who was captured on 6 May by LNA fighters in the Sabri area of Benghazi, as he was preparing an IED. Azzaz was handed over to Werfalli, who executed him on film ‘under Sharia proceedings’ the same day.
Following last week’s much-touted meeting between Government of National Accord (GNA) Prime Minister Fayez al- Serraj and eastern military commander Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar in Abu Dhabi, there are rumours that a second meeting is due to take place between the two men in Cairo this week. High Council of State (HCS) leader Abdurrahman al-Swehli and House of Representatives (HoR) president Agilah Saleh may also attend this second meeting. On 9 May, the HCS appointed a 13 member committee to join the political dialogue committee to discuss amendments to the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) with the HoR delegation.
International support for this reconciliation was reinforced through official visits on 5 and 6 May by the Foreign Ministers of the UK, Italy and Norway to Tripoli and Tubruq where they met with Serraj, Swehli and Saleh. The UN Special Envoy also met with Saleh on 6 May in an attempt to get the amendment process on track. However, on 6 May the Serraj-Haftar meeting was condemned by Libya’s Grand Mufti Sadeq al-Ghariani, as well as by an array of moderate and hardliner militias from both Tripoli and Misrata.
The Egyptian military said on 8 May that it had deployed fighter jets and helicopter gunships in several raids near the Egyptian-Libyan border and had destroyed 15 4×4 vehicles crossing into Egypt from Libya. The Egyptian military claimed the trucks were carrying weapons and other contraband but didn’t say who was driving the vehicles or give details of any casualties.
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