Other 6 Dec 16

Dec 6, 2016 | Other Jihadi Actors

On 1-3 December, clashes broke out in Tripoli in multiple locations among nominally pro GNA militias against other rival militias who pledge allegiance to Grand Mufti Sadeq al-Ghariyani, former Tripoli “GNC PM” Khalifa al-Ghwell and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG). The main attack on 1 December was conducted by a pro-GNA militia called the ‘Tripoli Revolutionary Brigade’ (TRB) against the Ihsan Brigade,  a hard-line Islamist brigade associated with the Mufti Sadeq al-Ghariyani, which had begun to reinforce with sand barricades its position near the former GNC building in central Tripoli.

In penetrating the Islamist’s positions, the TRB apparently found IEDs and explosives which they claim is akin to IS and jihadist militant gear in Benghazi, Sirte and other places. On 30 November, former GNC PM Omar al-Hassi, who is closely affiliated with the Islamist factions, had announced the establishment of the ‘Supreme Council of the Revolution’. These moves were seen by the nominally pro-GNA militias as a precursor to yet another Islamist ‘coup’ in the capital. This spurred clashes elsewhere throughout the city – including Tajoura, Abu Saleem, Zawiya Dahmani, Rixos hotel (near the GNC presidential palaces where Khalifa al-Ghwell is managing his ‘coup’) and in Airport road just south of Tripoli in the areas of Hadba and Salaheddin.

The anti-GNA group is mainly affiliated to the Islamist faction and the political actors associated with it, comprising a number of militias formerly under the GNC and the Libya Dawn alliance. These include the ‘National Guard’ (which is a parallel force established by Islamists and runs the notorious ‘Hadba’ prison where some former Qadhafi senior officials are held), the Sixth Security Brigade in Zawiya Dahmani, and Liwa al-Somoud (run by Salah Badi and linked to Misrata). There is also the Ihsan Brigade which was the subject of the attack near Rixos (by the local, nominally pro-GNA forces) and is run by Tarek Durman, a former leader of the LIFG. Additionally, there is also Salah al-Burki brigade, the 3098 brigade, the Libya Revolutionary Operations Room (LROR), other militias from Tajoura (Bugra and Batta), and finally fighters from the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB).

The nominally pro-GNA militias operate within the formal structures of the GNA but they themselves are semi-independent and ambivalent. They include the alliance of the Special Deterrence Forces (RADA) run by Abdul Raouf Kara, the MoI’s first company the Tripoli Revolutionary Brigade, run by Haithem Tajouri, Abu Saleem Central Security led by Abdul Ghani al-Kikkli (who is known locally as Ghniwa), the Nawasi brigade (which protects the entrance to the GNA headquarters in Abu Setta), Bab Tajoura, Hankoura and Abou Azza Brigades.

On 3 December, a ceasefire was reportedly brokered by the Misratan Halbous (GNA) and Marsa brigades (GNC) between the militias supporting the Mufti and the others nominally aligned to the GNA. Although the situation returned to its normal, tenuous calm by 4 December, 8 people in total, mainly civilians, were apparently killed in the fighting but no major damages or actual pitched battles took place.

In Benghazi, the LNA continues to consolidate the major gains it made last week against jihadi fighters from the Benghazi Revolutionary Shura Council (BRSC) and ISIS in Ganfuda in south-west Benghazi. On 30 November, it launched a major assault to eradicate the remaining forces in this area. On 1 December, a ‘suitcase’ bomb exploded in a crowded section of the Benghazi Medical Centre, which has been busy dealing with the wounded from the army assault on Ganfuda, but led to no deaths. On 5 December, a senior LNA officer was killed, as the LNA attempted to drive a wedge through the jihadi positions in Ganfuda, bringing the total number of LNA fighters killed last week to nine. Jihadi fighters launched two suicide vehicles towards LNA lines but both were destroyed by heavy gunfire before they could reach their targets. The LNA also claimed to have captured three technical vehicles as well as an ambulance.