Other — 30 May 2016

May 30, 2016 | Other Jihadi Actors

As in recent weeks, Benghazi remains largely under Libyan National Army (LNA) control but fighting continues to take place in the city between LNA units and pockets of ISIS militants, Ansar Al Sharia fighters and the Benghazi Revolutionary Shura Council (BRSC) in the areas of Sabri and Soug Al Hout. The LNA siege of the Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council (DMSC) in Derna is ongoing, as airstrikes have continued to target DMSC positions.

On 23 May, the former General National Congress (GNC) chief of staff Abdul Salam Jadallah Al-Abedi arrived at the Hun airbase in Jufra with other senior military officers from Derna who are aligned with the DMSC. They were received by a number of militias closely linked to Islamist and anti-Government of National Accord (GNA) factions including Zeyad Balam’s Omar Al Mokhtar Brigade, which is closely linked with the BRSC.

The BRSC issued a unique statement on 25 May, explicitly distancing themselves from ISIS for the first time. The BRSC condemned ISIS as a group that has ‘corrupted Islam and the mission’, and congratulating the ‘revolutionaries’ in western Libya fighting against ISIS. Analysts say that the statement is an attempt by the BRSC to regain credibility and support in western Libya, which has decreased markedly after their exposure as de-facto allies with ISIS. The BRSC also published photos of a prisoner exchange it conducted with the LNA, possibly another signal of openness to dialogue with the LNA.

On 28 May, a statement was issued by the Media Front for Libyan Revolutionaries in Benghazi, which is closely linked to the BRSC. The statement congratulated the victories of ‘revolutionary mujahedeen’ against ISIS on their way to Sirte, but warned against political exploitation. The statement called on the revolutionaries to unify under a common leadership and to establish a media and political office to deny other political forces from taking advantage of their sacrifices.