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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Local sources in Jufra report a new mobilization by GNA/Islamist affiliated groups who reportedly plan to attack Ras Lanuf port in the coming weeks. Rivalries between militias of various factions in Tripoli are escalating, with various rival armed groups implicated in clashes, kidnappings and armed assault.

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The anti-ISIS coalition, such as exists, is in a state of flux after Haftar’s seizure of the oil ports. Misratan officials have said that they will not go to war against the LNA to support Jadhran, however after Haftar’s forces succeeded in repelling a counter attack against the Sidra and Ras Lanuf ports, they pushed to within 50km of Sirte where Misrata are currently battling ISIS.

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On 11 September, General Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) announced and launched a secretive military operation named Sudden Lightening, and by 12 September the LNA had taken full military control of the Oil Crescent. Ras Lanuf, Sidra and Zuetina oil ports were wrested away from Ibrahim Jadhran’s Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG), and are now under control of the House of Representatives-aligned (HoR) LNA.

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On Sunday night 20 Dec, there were new reports of ‘unidentified’ low-flying, surveillance aircraft over ISIS territory east of Sirte, near Noufaliyah, Um Qandil and Bin Jawwad, a town just 40km from Sidra and Ras Lanuf, the largest oil terminals in Libya. Sources speculate that the aircraft are likely French jets flying from the French Carrier Charles De Gaulle…. In fact, prominent Islamists and political hardliners in Tripoli are saying that the purpose of the GNA is to rubber stamp international intervention against all Islamist forces, a potently dangerous rhetoric as it risks emboldening extremist groups and IS even further. In a recent statement by Dar Al Ifta, the religious establishment headed by the Grand Mufti in Tripoli, Sadeq Al Gheryani, the GNA is deemed against Sharia due to its illegitimate and unconstitutional origins.

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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 18 March, the LNA announced it had fully liberated Ganfuda from jihadists and began targeting Sabri and Souq al-Hout. The LNA has also retaken the Oil Crescent and on 20 March, pushed further south.

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On 14 March, the LNA launched a counter attack against the BDB. Following intense fighting, by the end of the day the LNA claimed to be in control of the Oil Crescent once more, including the oil ports.

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The Islamist Benghazi Defence Brigades launched a surprise attack against the LNA in the oil crescent last week, pushing the LNA back to Brega and taking control of two oil ports. The LNA has accused the PC of working with BDB and other jihadists to mastermind the attack.

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The LNA launched airstrikes against several BDB positions in Jufra, killing two and injuring six. The BDB then managed to down an LNA helicopter, killing the whole crew, and released a video showing the attack.

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The LNA defeated a counter-attack on the oil crescent launched from Jufra by allied forces including Jadhran loyalists, BDB fighters and some GNA forces. The attacking convoy was routed and the LNA even extended its control south of Jufra, all the way to Brak al-Shati. In Tripoli, tensions are high as anti-GNA Misratan forces mobilize to support the anti-GNA Islamist coalition, while protests took place after a video of militiamen raping a woman was released.

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GNA Defence Minister Mahdi al-Barghathi condemned Haftar and the LNA last week, accusing them of carrying out assassinations and human rights abuses in eastern Libya. The LNA fears Barghati is allying with BDB militias and Jadhran loyalists to launch a counter-attack on the oil crescent.

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Three key developments were identified last week: 1) The unabated momentum of the Government of National Accord’s (GNA) Bunyan Marsus coalition against ISIS in Sirte, 2) the Libyan National Army’s (LNA) surge eradicated the remaining pockets of jihadi fighters in southwestern Benghazi and 3) and the influence of the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) in the oil crescent has taken a significant hit.

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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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In Sirte, ISIS is taking unprecedented measures as the buildup of rival Libyan forces towards a battle in Sirte is almost complete. ISIS is reported to have executed, by firing squad an army captain, named as Ahnaish Qaddafi, and two other soldiers, both bothers, as it tries to control public dissent in the town before battle commences with anti-ISIS forces …

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The Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) attacked an ISIS convoy en-route to Bin Jawwad on 16 April, killing ISIS senior commander Abu Hamza Al Jazairi. Al Jazairi is said to have lead ISIS missions in Bin Jawwad and Ras Lanuf. Three other ISIS militants, two Algerians and one Tunisian, were injured in the attack, as the PFG ambushed the convoy with …

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