On 22 September, the US conducted an unmanned airstrike on an ISIS camp about 150 miles south-east of Sirte, reportedly killing 17 ISIS fighters and destroying 3 vehicles. ISIS’s Wilayat Barqa, published a long video last week praising the ISIS suicide car bomb attack in Nawfaliyah and the Fugha checkpoint massacres in August.  

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A team of Italian military and security advisors visited Sirte’s al-Qardabiyah airport to assess ‘reconstruction.’ The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for LNA’s Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf al-Werfalli. There are reports that an armed security contingent for the UN is planned to offload in Khoms port.

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Misratan-led Bunyan Marsus (BM) forces have raised the level of security readiness in anticipation of an impending Islamic State (ISIS) attack on Sirte from the south and the east. GNA spokesman Mohammed al-Ghosri denied rumours that BM requested military support from the LNA and posited that the LNA’s position in Jufra may actually facilitate the presence and movement of ISIS south of Sirte.

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Misratan al-Bunyan al-Marsus (BM) forces, who nominally support the Government of National Accord (GNA), announced last week that they had skirmished with three units affiliated with the Libyan National Army (LNA) in Qasr Abu Hadi, south of Sirte, while they were on an anti-ISIS reconnaissance mission in the area.

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Tactical Lessons from the Ejection of ISIS from Sirte

In the second instalment for Atlantic Council, Dr Alia Brahimi and Jason Pack discuss the tactical lessons that can be learnt from the ejection of ISIS from Sirte in December 2016. Although the authors stress that ISIS is far from defeated in Libya, the group’s loss of territorial control is significant. They argue that reliance on local anti-ISIS militia is double-edged, a light and targeted Western military footprint can be effective, and that the timing of any anti-ISIS military operation is key.

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Strategic Lessons from the Ejection of ISIS from Sirte

In an article for the Atlantic Council’s MENASource, Dr Alia Brahimi and Jason Pack write the first of two article looking at valuable lessons that can be learned from the ejection of the Islamic State (ISIS) from Sirte. This first article delves into the strategic lessons, arguing that 1) Governance failures drive jihadism; 3) Weakening ISIS strengthens al-Qaeda; and 3) ISIS’s governance model is unsustainable. A second article will look at the tactical lessons.

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The GNA established a 3,000-strong ‘Sirte protection’ force from the BM forces that fought ISIS in Sirte. The HoR called it a ‘terrorist’ force while the LNA appointed Qadhafi-era commander to head its Sirte ops room

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On 16 January, the GNA’s MoD spokesperson, announced that more than 2,500 bodies of ISIS fighters had been collected from Sirte.On 17 January, LNA forces in Nawfaliyah, a town west of Sirte, captured Emhemmed Emrajaa al-Hamali, a senior Libyan ISIS commander from Sirte. Al-Hamali was taken by the LNA to Grenada prison in Benghazi.

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On 19 January, American B-2 stealth bombers destroyed two ISIS camps approximately 44 km south-west of Sirte, dropping more than 100 precision-guided bombs on the targets. On 21 January, a VBIED exploded near the Italian embassy in Tripoli.

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Last week, US AFRICOM concluded Operation Odyssey Lightning in Sirte while support is being given to the Stabilisation Facility for Libya. On 23 December, an internal Libya flight was hijacked and flown to Malta, where the hijackers were apprehended.

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The GNA officially declared the operation against ISIS in Sirte victorious although BM forces continue to sweep the city for mines, explosives and fighters, while US AFRICOM continues to provide support to monitor Sirte and the surrounding area.

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BM forces continue to sweep Sirte for remaining ISIS fighters, mines and IEDs. Hundreds of bodies have been recovered, including many from who are believed to be ISIS fighters from Derna. A mayor for Sirte was elected however BM forces have rejected him as being pro-Haftar and have appointed their own military governor.

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An ISIS suicide bomb attack which targeted a Misratan court complex in the centre of the city on 4 October, killed four people and wounded several more after ISIS fighters opened fire on the complex and one attacked detonated a suicide belt. Local support of security forces in clamping down against militia members connected with terrorist organizations is rising. It is reported that an ISIS cell was arrested and its armory, including high power explosives, was found in the Ruwaisat area.

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On 28 September, the Attorney General’s Office released the names and affiliations of several ISIS and Ansar al-Sharia connected individuals in Libya. They provided details and photographs of accused, organizational charts, links and routes of travel into Libya and said 800 arrest warrants had already been issued for nearly 200 terrorist attacks in Libya.

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On 26 September, US Africom conducted ‘two precision airstrikes’ against ISIS fighters some 160 kilometres southeast of Sirte, killing an unspecified number of ISIS fighters. On 30 September, the UN’s Joint Drafting Committee declared it had reached the first set of agreements on amendments to the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) in Tunis, as Haftar visited senior officials in Italy and France.

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