The re-emergence of Islamic State (ISIS) cells in central and southern Libya last month has led both the Libyan National Army (LNA) and the Government of National Accord’s (GNA) al-Bunyan al- Marsus to deploy large forces to the region. The LNA, which currently controls most Oil Crescent territory, mobilised units from its two strongest divisions – the Special Forces (Saiqa) and the Armoured Zawiyya Martyrs Brigade, led by general Jamal Zahawi, to locations in Ajdabiya, Ras Lanuf and near Nawfaliyah as well as in the desert areas south and south-east of Sirte.

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, which includes the towns of Nawfaliyah and Harawa, is all under the control of the LNA. On 8 September, the LNA reportedly defused a bomb attached to the main gas pipeline south of Ajdabiya, although it is not clear who planted the bomb or how it was discovered. 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.