Fighting this week focused on the ISIS stronghold in the Ouagadougou Centre, Ibn Sina Hospital and Sirte University areas, with airstrikes and helicopter gunships featuring heavily in the battles. In short, very little progress is being made to dislodge ISIS from these areas. ISIS fighters still appear to have a presence in areas previously taken by Bunyan Marsus in Sirte’s south and west, and ISIS also appears to be attempting to flank Bunyan Marsus, indicating a more prolonged guerrilla war in the city.

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The Misratan-led Bunyan Marsus anti-ISIS campaign in Sirte suffered setbacks on 15 July when at least 20 men were killed in multiple suicide attacks by ISIS militants… Security threats in the oil crescent are dramatically increasing, with higher prospects of a larger conflict in the short-medium term. On 17 July, fighting broke out between Libyan National Army (LNA) units, supported by local volunteers, and Benghazi Defense Brigade (BDB) in the town of Magrun, only 70 kilometers southwest of Benghazi… The BDB’s momentum is intensifying rifts in the region, especially between the LNA and the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) commanded by Ibrahim Jadhran.

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In the oil crescent, the Benghazi Defense Brigade (BDB) claimed to have shot down a Libyan National Army (LNA) helicopter on 17 July near Magrun, 70 kilometers south of Benghazi. AP reports indicate that the two foreigners may have been members of French special forces. Meanwhile, the BDB managed to retake the towns of Sultan and Jelidia, which it had withdrawn from last week. LNA reinforcements had been mobilized to the area, but were unable to halt the BDB’s advance.

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US Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on 18 July he is encouraged by developments against ISIS in Libya… UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that ISIS fighters could set up new cells across Libya and North Africa as they are driven from Sirte.

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