An LNA offensive against the Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council (DMSC), which controls Derna, appears imminent. The LNA continues to deploy large ground forces to Derna from Benghazi, Ajdabiya and other areas to prepare for the assault. Haftar dismissed Wanis Bukhamada as head of the Benghazi JSFOR, replacing him with Abdurrazaq al-Nadhouri.

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Last week, the LNA deployed forces from Benghazi and nearby towns to take up positions around Derna and prepare an offensive against the Derna Mujahadeen Shura Council, which controls the city. The LNA’s Omar al-Mukhtar Operation Room Commander asked all citizens to move away from possible targets, indicating that shelling and/or airstrikes may be used.

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On 28 December, the Libyan National Army announced the full purge of jihadist forces from Benghazi – six months after the LNA initially declared the city liberated. The following day, Derna reportedly received some of the fleeing BRSC-linked fighters.

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On 12 December, DMSC members arrested some alleged ISIS members in Derna including Mahmoud Mohammed al-Souainay. On 14 December, DMSC fighters arrested Souhail Rizk al-Oakley, in al-Maghar area in the centre of Derna, for the second time. On 13 December, reports indicated that the body of a young man which showed signs of being executed was found in Nufaliya, a town east of Sirte.

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On 27 November, the LNA conducted an airstrike on DMSC targets in al-Dahra al-Hamar area, south of Derna. On 23 November, a mutiny inside a Misratan prison among Islamist hardliners led to four prisoners fleeing, with two later killed in a faceoff with prison guards.  

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On 18 November, the LNA conducted two airstrikes against DMSC targets in al-Dahra al-Hamar area, south of Derna. On 16 November, the Egyptian Ministry of Interior said that the perpetrators of an attack against Egyptian police forces in the Wahat area in Egypt on 20 October ,were trained in Derna. On 14 November, the Misrata local attorney released a number of high profile fighters with suspected links to extremist groups, on the grounds of illegal arrest procedures.

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On 30 October, airstrikes of unknown origin hit the Dahr al-Hamar and al-Fatieh districts of Derna. The strikes killed at least 12 children and women, and injured many more. Both the LNA and the Egyptian military have denied responsibility for the incident. The LNA said it had set an internal six-month deadline to conclude the ongoing UN dialogue talks or else the LNA would move on Tripoli. Clashes broke out in the center of Zawiyya and near the oil refinery on the evening of 30 October.

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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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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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Saiqa initially rejected the ICC arrest warrant issued for al-Warfalli on 15 August, but now reports that he is suspended pending investigation. A delegation from Derna led by the head of the Derna municipal council met with Serraj on 15 August to discuss the on going siege on the city. On 16 August, internal clashes broke out between Libyan National Army’s (LNA) Omar al-Mukhtar Operations Room over control at the Martuba checkpoint which controls entry into Derna.

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In late July after the DMSC downed an LNA jet over Derna and alleged killed and mutilated its pilot Adel Jehani, triggering a tightening of the LNA siege on the city. Local sources report that the LNA’s Saiqa Special Forces have reportedly moved to Derna to join the LNA in preparation for a major assault on the city in conjunction with an internal uprising, targeting key DMSC leaders and military targets.

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Egypt conducted airstrikes on Derna  and Jufra last week, in coordination with the LNA, supposedly in retaliation for an ISIS massacre of Christians in Egypt. The GNA criticized the strikes as a violation of sovereignty.

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On 16 January, the head of the Libyan National Army (LNA)’s Operation Dignity command centre, Brig Abdussalam al-Hassi, announced the full takeover of Abu Saneeb area of Benghazi from the coalition of jihadis after the LNA continued its advance in Abu Saneeb with air support. LNA operations also resumed last week with airstrikes against the Derna Shura Mujahedeen Council (DMSC).

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There are reports of ISIS fighters sabotaging infrastructure in south-west Libya, including an attack on the Man Made River pipeline. An anti-ISIS tribal coalition has reportedly been formed to counter this threat. In Sirte, an ISIS suicide bomber attacked BM forces but no casualties were reported, while ISIS fighter says Tunisia journalists were executed in Derna.

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On 23 January, a dual bombing in Benghazi led to at least 40 deaths, with many of those critically injured in the initial attack subsequently dying from their wounds. While no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, LNA- affiliated groups have blamed jihadists. On 29 January, the DMSC executed 3 people who they accused of being LNA loyalists.

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