In Sirte, ISIS forces are still confined within the coastal residential districts of Hay Al-Gizah and 600 Flats, a small enclave of two to three square kilometres in the east of the city. ISIS fighters have heavily barricaded this area with sand blockades and trenches. On 22 September, intense clashes took place after Misratan-led Bunyan al-Marsus (BM) forces attempted a renewed push into the ISIS stronghold. BM forces suffered heavy losses: 8 fighters died and 50 were injured in the assault. The BM media centre reported neutralising three ISIS suicide vehicles before they hit their targets. The remaining ISIS fighters in Sirte are proving difficult to dislodge due to their effective use of IEDs and VBIEDs.

On the early morning of 23 September, ISIS fighters conducted a surprise assault against BM forces positioned in Sirte port.  The assault was repelled after a few hours, and the ISIS militants withdrew to their strongholds in eastern Sirte. On 24 September, local media sources reported 4 suicide vehicle attack attempts by ISIS against BM forces, but these have not yet been confirmed by the GNA-affiliated forces.

On 22 September, 22 countries, plus the European Union, United Nations, the League of Arab States, and the African Union, issued a joint communiqué on Libya, reiterating commitment to the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) signed in Skhirat last year. The communiqué urged the Presidential Council (PC) to put forward a new Government of National Accord (GNA) ministerial list to the House of Representatives (HoR) for a vote, and urged the HoR to approve it. The statement urged full de-escalation of conflict, and supported PM Serraj’s move to reduce tensions in the oil crescent after the LNA takeover.  It also welcomed the recent transfer of oil facilities in the crescent to the National Oil Corporation (NOC), as well as the plans to increase oil production and exports.

On 23 September, United States Africa Command (U.S. AFRICOM) reported that it has carried out 169 airstrikes in total since Operation Odyssey Lightning, the US campaign of airstrikes against ISIS targets in Sirte, commenced on 1 August this year.

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