Over the last two weeks, the Benghazi Defense Brigade (BDB) advanced to within 60 kilometers east of Benghazi, before reportedly retreating back to its base in Jufra, Libya on 22-23 July. The militia, which has enjoyed rising support in western Libya after it managed to take down an LNA helicopter with three French soldiers onboard on 17 July, is likely to conduct a new incursion into the oil crescent to retake oil wells from LNA-aligned forces and to mount another assault on Benghazi.

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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 Meanwhile, the BDB managed to retake the towns of Sultan and Jelidia, which it had withdrawn from last week.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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Battles intensified on 6-8 July as jihadists conducted a surprise counterattack against the LNA on the evening of Eid in Ganfuda. The jihadists’ fierce resistance may demonstrate their desperation, but it casts doubts on LNA pronouncements that the jihadists had been neutralized. At the same time, there has been an escalation of conflict between the LNA and the Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council (DMSC). A three-week ceasefire was breached when the LNA conducted airstrikes on alleged DMSC targets in and around the Derna port on 9 July.

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A high-level political attempt at rapprochement in Derna culminated in a declared ceasefire last week. Nonetheless, Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council (DMSC) militants assassinated three Libyan National Army (LNA) security officers on 1 July, serving to scuttle previous progress. Meanwhile, an IED that killed two LNA security officers in a busy Benghazi street on 2 July, indicates that militants are likely to resort once more to assassinations and suicide bombings, if they continue to lose ground. The DMSC is also supporting renegade Islamist militias in Ajdabiya and Benghazi, a practice that has escalated tensions and made reconciliation between non-ISIS jihadis and the LNA even less likely.

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