On 14 March, ISIS published a video titled ‘Messages to Benghazi’. ISIS filmed the execution of 2 Libyan National Army (LNA) soldiers, while issuing threats against Haftar loyalists in Derna and Benghazi and pledging support for jihadists fighting them.
In the 21st weekly issue of the ISIS official magazine, Al Naba, the group published an interview with the new ISIS Emir for Libya, Abdul Qadr al-Najdi. Najdi described himself as “the emir tasked with administering the Libyan provinces” and said he was praying for Libya to be made the ‘vanguard of the Caliphate’. He also said that ISIS in Libya is “still young”, but making progress. Najdi hoped “The provinces became the destination of the mujahedeen and a sanctuary for the oppressed, and [prayed] that these trail blazers lead the conquest of Rome”.
ISIS killed four fighters from Misrata stationed at the Abu Grein checkpoint in a surprise attack on 9 March. Misratan forces advanced east towards Sirte reaching the 50km checkpoint and sweeping the area.
Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) forces successfully repelled an attempted ISIS infiltration into Sidra after fighting occured east of the city’s oil installation on 10 March.
Clashes between ISIS and the Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council, which is allied with the LNA, have continued on Derna’s eastern coast and southern hills, albeit with less frequency than the previous month.
On 10 March, ISIS blocked the main southern road connecting Tripoli and Sebha at a point between Mizdah and Garyat, and abducted one security officer. Forces from Zintan and the nearby tribe of Awlad Busif fought with ISIS fighters on 10 and 11 March, killing three Zintani fighters. ISIS leader Mohamed Qanunah, was reportedly killed during the fighting. The ISIS ‘Wilayet Fezzan’ franchise in the southern region of Libya claimed the attack, although the attack occurred in ‘Wilayet Tripolitania’, which is the western region. ISIS also published a video of the operation on 13 March.
The Libyan Air Force (LAF), composed of forces from Zintan and others stationed at Watiya Airbase west of Tripoli, conducted a number of airstrikes on suspected targets near Mizdah and Garyat on 11 March. According to LAF officers, Watiya Airbase will be used extensively to counter ISIS activity along the Libyan-Tunisian border, and to provide air support for future LNA operations against ISIS in western Libya.
ISIS is believed to have attacked the Sarir power station and taken control of Al Shula oilfield 400 kilometers south of Ajdabiya. Tebu units of the PFG, who provide security at the power station and the Sarir oilfield 80 kilometres away, were involved in fighting with ISIS militants. Reportedly, a suicide car-bomber was also killed before he could cause major damage.