In Benghazi, IS cells are operating more and more independently from all other forces present. This includes Ansar al-Shari’a cells operationally affiliated with the BRSC, but ideologically close to IS. On Wednesday 19 August, IS cells launched an isolated surprise attack from their posts in the al-Sabri district onto LNA positions near the commercial port. Whilst LNA troops were able to quickly re-gain the ground initially lost to the IS surprise attack, these events confirm that the situation on the ground remains very fluid. Furthermore, it appears that in light of the effect that the arms embargo has on all actors’ military capabilities, the fight for control of Libya’ second city will very much consist of a meaningless and continuous trading of control over mixed and contested neighbourhoods for the coming months.
In Derna, local IS cells launched a number of assaults, raids and operations throughout the week from their bases and strongholds in the al-Fataiah region, located in the countryside to the South-West of the city. In particular, heavy fighting between IS and militias of the Derna Mujahiddeen Shura Council (DMSC) occurred in the areas of the Kurfat al-Sab’a area and of Bab Tubruq district. Furthermore, IS militants reportedly carried out indiscriminate shelling of a number of peripheral residential areas, including: Bab Tubruq, the 400 neighbourhood and the Sahal al-Sharqiyya and al-Sufara’ districts. It is worth noting that since the month of June, when infighting between IS and DMSC erupted, no major military confrontation has occurred between LNA forces sieging Derna’s region and DMSC ones. On the contrary, several reports indicate that although there is no real direct co-operation ongoing, the two factions are adopting a complementary approach in their fight against IS. The two blocs are in fact taking responsibility for curbing IS presence and efforts in different areas of Derna’s countryside and surrounding region.