General Khalifa Hafter launched a major offensive against Islamist militants in Benghazi this week making serious gains that seem to have finally shifted the balance of power between his forces and those of the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council more firmly in his favour.

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The rebranding of Haftar’s forces as the National Army plus PR attempts to coordinate with the local population have proved helpful, but also played into jihadi recruitment stratagems of using hatred of Haftar as their primary recruitment platform.

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The Islamic State (IS) of Abu Bakr Baghdadi in Iraq and Syria is still winning over supporters in Derna. A second forum was held in the town this week at which local militants belonging to the Shura Council of the Youth of Islam in Derna pledged their allegiance to Baghdadi and his Islamic State.

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The situation in Derna remains unaltered with radical IS-aligned groups maintaining control of the city and of its infrastructure. Operation Dignity forces continue to enforce a blockade over the city’s port and carried out aerial attacks as recently as Wednesday 26 November.

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Sirte continues to be the object of a struggle between Misrata-aligned forces and radical Islamist groups aligned with Ansar al-Shari’a. Derna continues to be a hotbed of radical Islamist militias.

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On 13 December a group of brigades from Misrata in conjunction with Ansar al-Sharia in Sirte began advancing on the oil crescent in an attempt to ‘liberate’ the country’s energy facilities.

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