On 2 April, ISIS attacked the Al Beda 47 oil field, which is owned by the Arabian Gulf Oil Company and connected by pipeline to Brega, before being pushed back by the Marada Martyrs brigade, a group that supports the Libyan National Army (LNA). On 3 April, the brigade clashed again with ISIS militants 70 kilometres west of Marada in Gar Jahannam, a desert outpost for ISIS in the region. Ibrahim Jadhran and some units of the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) mobilised to support the brigade.
ISIS militants are the prime suspects behind the 3 April attack on the ‘Eighth Force Brigade’, which is affiliated with Libya Dawn, on the southern road between Sabha and Tamanhint. The attack resulted in the death of five ‘Eighth Force’ members.
On 4 April, ISIS militants attacked soldiers from ‘Al Waddan Brigade’, a group affiliated with the LNA, at the main Waddan checkpoint in the Aljufra region, 160 kilometres south of Sirte. The attack led to the death of three Brigade soldiers manning the checkpoint, and looting of vehicles and weapons. At the same time, the Brigade was able to retake the checkpoints of ‘Khashoom Al Kheil” and “Airport checkpoint”, 60 kilometres and 70 kilometres, respectively, south of Sirte. The Brigade killed six ISIS militants in the fighting.
In Sirte, ISIS executed four people on 1 April for allegedly working with the ‘Salafists’ and ‘the apostate Libyan governments’. Residents who have fled Sirte report that ISIS checks computers and electronics at all its major positions in ‘Jaref’ and ‘50km checkpoint’ west of the city. ISIS has reportedly used sophisticated software to retrieve data quickly from personal electronic devices. The fighters manning these checkpoints are said to hail from Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan and Yemen.
Additionally, ISIS distributed mandatory forms to all Sirte residents making it obligatory for all to attend dawn prayers at their local mosques, with the threat of punishment for violators. This measure is part of a formalisation of ISIS governance tactics that is now taking place on a wider scale. Demonstrating further control, on 5 April ISIS published a photo gallery of ISIS ‘Hisbah’ (regulators) patrolling the city of Harawah east of Sirte.
The ISIS clampdown is causing a sustained exodus of Sirte’s residents. Some locals suggest that the depopulation of the city seems to be a conscious ISIS strategy. Until now, ISIS has occupied the homes and properties of Sirte’s inhabitants in order to maintain its control. ISIS has also called for all residents living in government-owned properties to immediately pay their debts, or face expulsion from their homes. The quarters are needed to accommodate the influx of ISIS fighters and loyalists joining the group in Sirte. Additionally, this approach has made international airstrikes and by attacks the local anti-ISIS coalition more difficult by increasing the risk of collateral damage.