Other — 8 March 2016

Mar 8, 2016 | Other Jihadi Actors

Since the beginning of 2016, coinciding with the new ISIS campaign against Libyan Oil Crescent ports and the Libyan National Army’s (LNA) latest surge against ISIS-linked militias in Benghazi, the significance of other non-state actors has diminished. The LNA’s advance in Benghazi last week against ISIS, the Benghazi Revolutionary Shura Council (BRSC) and Ansar Al Sharia (AAS) has caused a large collapse in the ranks of these militias, which withdrew to Benghazi’s western front. Divisions between these forces have largely blurred, despite the media units of each faction still attributing various operations/fighting to their forces. AAS continues to publish photographs of its attempts to repel the LNA assault on its position in Benghazi’s western front. The BRSC issued a statement on 5 February announcing their continued campaign, while admitting defeats and setbacks and calling for additional support. Meanwhile, photos published by AAS showed well-known BRSC commander Wissam Ben Hamid leading the charge against LNA units on Benghazi’s western front, highlighting the blurred distinction between BRSC, AAS and ISIS forces.

The LNA recapture of Ajdabiya on the 21 February, and the relative calm in the city and surrounding region since then (excluding the foiled ISIS attack on oil fields south of Ajdabiya on 5 March), highlights the collapse of the Ajdabiya Revolutionary Shura Council (ARSC) capabilities to function as another non-state actor. It is worth noting that the fragmentation of ARSC took hold after the commander of the group, along with two-dozen other fighters, defected from ARSC and pledged allegiance to ISIS.