ISIS withdrew from Derna on 20 April after intense fighting with the Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council (DMSC), and their Libyan National Army (LNA) allies, just days before. Sources in Derna report that ISIS retreated after their commanders issued orders to fall back to Sirte. The consolidation of ISIS forces in Sirte could mean that the group is preparing for an imminent assault on the city by the LNA and the Misratans.
Sources inside Sirte are reporting observable ISIS agitation and increased clampdowns on the local populace. ISIS is also reportedly moving ammunition and supplies to locations inside the city, while the number of ISIS militants appearing in public has decreased suddenly in the last few days. As fears of large urban battle grow, the city is witnessing a rise in departures with, including long queues of residents waiting for ISIS-issued departure ‘permits’. Although the city is becoming increasingly deserted, the number of fixed ISIS checkpoints has increased. ISIS fighters are reportedly driving through the city, calling on locals to wage ‘jihad’ against invading forces. ISIS has also initiated compulsory recruitments of civilians, executing those who refuse to join.
On 23 April, the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) and the LNA fought with ISIS 52 kilometres south of Brega. Central PFG commander Ibrahim Jadhran was lightly injured during the battle, as ISIS militants from Sirte moved to support their comrades withdrawing from Derna.