Anti — 16 May 2016

May 16, 2016 | Libyan actors

In eastern Libya, the Libyan National Army (LNA) is preparing for a new offensive against the Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council (DMSC) and other jihadists belonging to Al Qaeda and Ansar Al Sharia (AAS). On 11 May, LNA spokesperson Ahmed El Mesmari held a press conference in Benghazi to outline the LNA’s progress in Derna. He said that the LNA had surrounded the city, intending to shut down supply routes to Al Qaeda and AAS. The LNA is still negotiating with the DMSC and other local actors with the aim of convincing them to surrender. Otherwise, the LNA warns, it will have no choice but to use force to take the city.  Mesmari also commented on the LNA’s “Battle for Greater Sirte,” saying that the operation is considered top secret, and that all units and commanders are under strict a strict gag order. However, local sources have reported that LNA units from east and southern Libya continue to assemble in Zallah and Marada, approximately 200 kilometres south of Ajdabiya.

On 10 May, the LNA removed the sand barriers blocking the road between Derna and Martouba. The 30 kilometre stretch of road was closed for over 10 months due to the LNA control of Al Fatieh area.

Clashes occurred on 11 May between the LNA and jihadist militants in Al Heela, south of Derna, killing one AAS fighter. This fighting follows other incidents, during which the LNA and its supporters in Derna have kidnapped or detained DMSC supporters and fighters.

On 12 May, 17 injured fighters from Misrata were medevac’d by an Italian Air Force C-130 to receive treatment at the military hospital in Rome. From the first ISIS assault on 5 May to the date of this report, Misrata’s casualties include 22 dead and 104 injured.

On 13 May, Tripoli’s Rada Special Deterrence Force commanded by Abdel Rauf Kara, reported that it successfully broke up and arrested an entire ISIS cell in Tripoli. One of the cell’s main members was a Tunisian national who was an expert in explosives. The detainees confessed to planning a number of terror attacks, including on checkpoints in the capital, to cause chaos and disrupt the political process.