This week witnessed the slowing momentum of the Government of National Accord’s (GNA) anti–ISIS operation in Sirte, as fierce ISIS counterattacks stalled the operation’s advance. This development is chiefly attributed to two factors: 1) ISIS is beginning to push back on the Bunyan Marsus advance inside Sirte, successfully and repeatedly hitting GNA forces behind their own front lines, and 2) the ‘defection’ of the hardline Islamist factions (e.g. Benghazi Defense Brigade) and other associated militias.

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The political damage to the Government of National Accord (GNA), following the attack on Ajdabiya on 18 June by Islamist militias, may undo fragile militia alliances in Tripoli and key towns in western Libya. Meanwhile, an escalation of open conflict between the Libyan National Army (LNA) and Islamist militias from western Libya is now very likely, and could potentially spill over into a broader tribal/regional conflict involving the LNA and the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG).

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Two key types of non-state actors may now be identified vis-a-vis theLibyan National Army (LNA): The first group is comprised of Islamist actors in the cities of Benghazi, Derna and Ajdabiya, (including ISIS, Ansar Al Sharia, Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council, Benghazi Revolutionary Shura Council, Benghazi Defense Brigade and the Ajdabiya Liberation Operation Room. The second group consists of militias that were once aligned with Khalifa Haftar, who have opted to support the Government of National Accord instead. Conflict is likely to continue unabated in Benghazi between the LNA and these groups, and may escalate further in Derna and Ajdabiya in the short term.

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Following UN Security Council approval on 14 June to inspect vessels off the coast of Libya, EU foreign ministers agreed at talks in Luxembourg on 20 June to extend Operation Sophia to July 2017, and tasked it with supporting Libya’s coast guard and navy. At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on 15 June, special envoy for Libya Jonathan Winer told the committee that the Obama administration seeks to support the Government of National Accord (GNA) with a $56 million aid package.

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