Other 22 Nov 16

Nov 22, 2016 | Other Jihadi Actors

On 17 and 18 November, Libyan National Army (LNA) forces retook the symbolic and long-contested ‘Guwarsha gate’ in Benghazi, the main base in the city for the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC) and Ansar al-Sharia jihadists who have been fighting the LNA since 2014. The LNA also announced that it had advanced from the east deep into Ganfuda, a besieged area in the south-west of the city, and now controls the customs warehouse. Air and naval forces were used in the ground assault against Guwarsha and Ganfuda, while jihadi militants tried to use suicide drivers to hold off the LNA advances in Ganfuda. BRSC sources eulogised their ‘mufti’, who apparently died in the offensive, in social media but did not name him.

Since 17 November, the LNA’s advances have continued, reportedly retaking some 20 square kilometres of this south-western part of Benghazi, tightening the siege around the remaining parts of Ganfuda. If successfully retaken, this would leave the Sabri/Souq al-Hout areas in the city centre of Benghazi as the remaining jihadist hold outs in the city. One LNA source estimated that the remaining area controlled by jihadi fighters in Benghazi is less than six square kilometres. On 21 November, at least three children were killed and 28 people wounded by a car bomb that exploded near Benghazi’s Jala hospital.

On 14 November, unidentified airstrikes targeted an Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) affiliated Libyan commander, Abu Talha, in the Shati area in southern Libya. His death has not been confirmed. In addition to rumours that veteran jihadist and former AQIM commander Mokhtar Bel Mokhtar is in Jufra,  on 20 November LNA forces claimed to have apprehended Mokhtar’s wife was as she reportedly attempted to travel from southern Libya to the city of Derna to give birth.

In Derna, the Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council (DMSC) is entrenching itself in the city in anticipation of an LNA offensive, establishing new security forces and calling all soldiers and security officers to enlist under its command.