The DMSC announced the capture of a cell of 12 ISIS fighters in Derna last week. However, the DMSC, which is leading the combat efforts of city residents in a nominal alliance with LNA units, is reportedly beginning to show signs of discord within its ranks, due to the alleged sympathy of some members to ISIS.
Two Tunisian ISIS members were captured with explosives in Zliten, apparently intending to bomb the city’s administrative building complex. The thwarted attack not only highlights the growing wariness of local security authorities in Zliten, but also the persistence of ISIS to mount another offensive in the city, following last month’s heinous attack that killed more than 60 police recruits.
Libyan and Tunisian ISIS militants have also reportedly been arrested in the city of Hun, 200km south of Sirte.
The Oil Crescent
In the oil crescent, PFG forces are still mobilized at oil installations to defend against further attacks from ISIS, which are likely to renew.
However, it is also possible that the PFG will mount an offensive foray against ISIS strongholds in nearby Bin Jawwad and Harawah, in retaliation for the beheadings of PFG members last week.
Although, the PFG, headed by Federalist leader Ibrahim Jadhran, frequently speaks of offensive action, the group usually opts to stay at its post, arguing that it should not leave the strategic port areas unmanned, or risk being led into a trap or ambush. The rift between the Jadhran and Khalifa Haftar, Commanding General of the LNA, is another reason for PFG inaction against ISIS. However, despite all of the factors favoring inertia, intensifying pressure on the PFG to retaliate and attempt to rescue other captive members may force such an attack.
In fact, on 2 February ISIS issued a statement claiming that it repelled an attack from the PFG (including seven technical vehicles and infantry) west of Sidra, in an indication that some forces from the PFG have indeed taken the fight to ISIS.
In Ajdabiya, the LNA appears to be gaining ground after its ‘152 Infantry Battalion’ and ’21 Border Brigade’ managed to take control of the ’18km Checkpoint’, located south of the city, and the Great Man-Made-River industrial complex. These strategic positions had been controlled by the Ajdabiya Revolutionary Shura Council (ARSC) militias. The LNA’s incremental success against the ARSC militias, may be partially due to the divisions with group.. In the last month, the ARSC emir and two dozen members have defected to ISIS, while the militia’s few remaining members have been reportedly holed-up in industrial complex area.
The wreckage of a UAV (possibly Russian-origin) with the closed-circuit video apparatus removed was also reportedly found near Ajdabiya. It is possible that this reconnaissance UAV was being used by ISIS, or members of the ARSC that have defected to the group.