On 15 September, the UN Security Council issued resolution 2376 extending the UNSMIL mandate for another year. On 14 September, UN envoy Ghassan Salame briefed the foreign ministers of America, Italy, the UAE, Egypt and France in London at the talks organized by the British FM. LNA Commander Haftar met with Congolese President, Denis Sassou Nguesso; Tunisian President, Beji Caid Essebsi; and US ambassador to Libya, Peter Bodde.

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Islamist ‘hardliners’ such as Grand Mufti Sadeq al-Ghariani and Khalifa al-Ghwell have been quick to back Igtet over anti-GNA protests planned for 25 September, in Tripoli’s Martyrs’ Square. GNA-affiliates Haithem Tajouri and Hashem Bishr both denounced the planned demonstrations and threatened to suppress the protest.

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The DMSC claims to have found the bodies of 5 foreigners abducted by ISIS in March 2015. DMSC forces found the deceased during a combing operation in June 2015 and identified them after scrutinizing equipment and laptops seized in Derna following the defeat of ISIS in the area earlier in the year.

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On 16 September, clashes broke out in Sabratha among units affiliated with the Anas Dabbashi Brigade and the 48 Brigade, leaving at least five dead and 18 injured. LNA air force jets flew over the city on 18 September, triggering local fears that the LNA might intervene if the clashes escalate further. A brief ceasefire was announced on 18 September for an ICRC led evacuation though it is reported that the gun fighting continued.

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On 10 September, the commander of the LNA’s Sirte Operation Room declared that the entire coastal strip from Sidra to about 50km east of Sirte. On 8 September, the LNA reportedly defused a bomb attached to the main gas pipeline south of Ajdabiya. BM forces are positioned at the 30km checkpoint east of Sirte, and it is reported that BM arrested two people in a raid last week, fueling tensions with the local population.

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On 5 September, Italy’s Interior Minister Marco Minitti visited LNA Commander Khalifa Haftar in Benghazi just a day after the French FM Jean-Yves Le Drian completed his tour of Libya. The new UNSMIL chief Ghassan Salamé is said to be frustrated by the succession of independent bilateral attempts to broker a solution to Libya’s crises, particularly ahead of the UN General Assembly’s meeting on Libya on 20 September.

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The DMSC is experiencing significant local backlash after the alleged abduction, torture and killing of a pro- LNA Salafist resident of Derna on 4 September. On 11 September, a key figurehead of the hardliner Islamist faction, Sheikh Abdul Razzag Emshirib, was reportedly detained by Tripoli’s GNA-aligned Special Deterrence Force (Rada).

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On 9 September GNA PM Serraj, HoR President Saleh and the head of the High Council of State Swehli attended African Union summit on Libya in Brazzaville, Congo. The Shahid Nouri Friwan Brigade stated its support for Basit Igtet’s presidential bid and warned “against [those] trying to silence people’s voices” during Igtet’s planned demonstrations in Tripoli later this month. Mohamed al-Senussi, stated that elections will not be possible and instead called for the restoration of Libya’s 1951 post-independence constitution.

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ISIS media claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack on a Libyan National Army (LNA) checkpoint at the entrance of al-Nawfaliya town, on 31 August. It was reported that ISIS units moved in to al-Teysseen, a town 90 kms east of Sirte, on 1 September. They allegedly held an Eid prayer in the local mosque and took positions in the town. The LNA air force launched a series of airstrikes targeting ISIS positions, from Ras Lanuf airstrip on 2 September.

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The French Foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian visited Libya on 4 September. A French diplomatic source said the visit was intended to dovetail with efforts by U.N. Envoy Ghassan Salamé to announce a road map to elections during the coming U.N. General Assembly.

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Misrata Counter Terrorism Unit arrested a senior member of the BDB, Ahmed Bakir, for alleged cooperation with ISIS and supplying foreign mercenaries to extremist groups. The CT unit also released a ‘confessions’ video of senior BRSC affiliate, Mohammed al-Khafifi, admitting membership in ISIS and claiming that his group had cooperated with the BDB in a number of suicide attacks

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On 30 August, Serraj appointed a Chief of Staff of the Libyan Army under the GNA, a move rejected by the LNA. On 1 September, a Zawiyya militia attacked a demonstration in commemoration of Gaddafi’s revolution, organised by local rivals affiliated with the LNA.

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The Decline of ISIS in Libya and the Levant is a Concern for Tunisia

In an article for the Middle East Eye, Rhiannon Smith and Lachlan Wilson discuss how the military gains against ISIS first in Libya then in the Levant could have a destabilising impact on Tunisia as the thousands of Tunisians fighting overseas for IS begin to return home and look to establish a new IS vanguard in North Africa. This could result in an increased ISIS presence in Tunisia itself or a regrouping of IS cells with Tunisian support in Libya’s deserts and potential hotspots such as Sabratha.

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On 23 August, Islamic State (ISIS) fighters attacked the Libyan National Army (LNA)-controlled al-Fugaha checkpoint in Jufra. Eleven victims were beheaded. On 27 August, Amaq released a new video showing two abductees and featuring several ISIS fighters guarding a checkpoint on a road near Jufra, south of Sirte.

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British FM met with Haftar in Benghazi, marking a turning point in the UK’s recognition of Haftar as a major player. However, Johnson warned the Haftar to abide by the Paris agreement made in July. On 28 August, Macron hosted a meeting with EU and North African countries on the Libyan migrant crisis.

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On 27 August, Serraj met with Sudanese president Bashir and they agreed to cooperate on security issues with a particular emphasis on fighting terrorism and border security. Misratan security forces arrested Usama Jadhran in Misrata for his alleged membership of Ansar al-Sharia and connections with ISIS.

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