1-8 August: Siege of Derna intensifies as Saiqa Special Forces join LNA Forces against DMSC

Aug 9, 2017 | Other Jihadi Actors

The conflict between Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) and the Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council (DMSC) last month after the DMSC shot down an LNA jet over Derna and alleged killed and mutilated its pilot Adel Jehani, triggering a tightening of the LNA siege on the city. The LNA’s Omar al-Mukhtar operations room has enforced a limited blockade on the city since the DMSC evicted ISIS fighters from the Fatayeh district over a year ago, but basic goods and medical supplies were previously allowed in.

Local sources report that the LNA’s Saiqa Special Forces have reportedly moved forward to join the LNA in preparation for a major assault on Derna in conjunction with an internal uprising, targeting key DMSC leaders and military targets. It is reported the Saiqa commander, Wanis Bukhamda stated that his attention is now focused on taking Derna. The LNA imposed siege on the city has provoked wide spread condemnation as it prevents much needed supplies of fuel, water and other amenities from entering the city. Derna’s local council and the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya, Maria Ribeiro, expressed concerns of a looming humanitarian crisis in the city. On August 7, the GNA’s Presidential Council issued a statement calling for “all relevant parties” to push for an end to the siege, and to put a stop to the “severe suffering” of the residents.

The siege was rebuked by Mohammed al-Ammari, an Islamist-affiliated member of the GNA as well as members from Derna in the High Council of State because it punishes all residents of Derna, regardless of whether they are civilians or members of DMSC.