A man suspected to be an IS member concealed himself among refugees allowed by the army to escape from the epicentres of fighting in Benghazi, detonating himself in a car laden with explosive as he arrived at an army checkpoint.
IS continues to grow and strengthen its position in Sirte and in the surrounding region, adopting an increasingly aggressive stance. The central Libyan city is growing more and more to resemble cities under IS control in Syria and Iraq where an all-pervasive and strict interpretation of Shari’a law is being implemented. Violence and kidnappings around the city continue also to be rife. On Monday 27 July, a judge from Khoms travelling near Harawa was kidnapped by IS members, no further news on him were available at the time of writing this report, but the episode is indicative of the growing influence and control that the organisation is able to exercise in the Sirte oil basin area.
Despite its deepening control in and around Sirte, however, IS is clearly still a long way from being able to muscle in on its key target of Misrata. At present, renewed efforts are being made by group members to gain a stable foothold in Ajdabiyya and surrounding region. On Saturday, an attack carried out on an army checkpoints manned by the 21st Battalion along the B11 highway, which connects Tubruq and Ajdabiyya, caused the death of 18 soldiers. On Sunday, army positions in the east of Ajdabiyya were again heavily attacked by IS members. These events confirm our previous analysis that the town is a primary target for Jihadist groups, which have made armed overtures towards it for a number of months. Ajdabiyya’s surrender into the hands of IS would represent a major reputational blow for the Tubruq-based establishment, especially as it is the town where many federalist supporters hail from.