In Derna, tensions between the Libyan National Army and jihadist forces are growing, with jihadist fighters attempting to launch a botched suicide attack against the LNA last week. There are reports of jihadist fighters from the Benghazi Defence Brigades tricking into Tripoli in anticipation of GNA fighters returning to the capital following the imminent defeat of ISIS in Sirte.

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In Benghazi, conflict continues between the Libya National Army (LNA) and the coalition of ISIS and Benghazi Revolutionary Shura Council. Fighting intensified in parts of Guwarsha and Ganfuda throughout last week, as jihadists still manage to launch suicide attacks and mortar fire on advancing LNA units… On 28 August, jihadist media outlets released a video showing the recovery of bodies of children killed on 27 August in Ganfuda allegedly by French airstrikes. Families and supporters of jihadists held demonstrations in Tripoli on 29 August in front of the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Abu Setta Naval Base in Tripoli condemning the attacks and calling for humanitarian assistance of the families trapped in the war-zone.

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Conflict continues in eastern Libya between the Libyan National Army (LNA) and the coalition of jihadists in Benghazi. Reports indicate that General Khalifta Haftar has arrived in Benghazi to personally oversee the final assault in western Benghazi…. In Derna, the LNA operation room responsible for conducting operations against the Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council (DMSC) was reorganized by Haftar this week, indicating a likely uptick in military confrontation in the coming weeks. The move follows two successful attacks conducted by the DMSC on LNA units near Derna last month, in which 12 LNA soldiers were killed.

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In Tripoli, local pro-GNA militias are recoiling at the perceived rise in Islamist and Misratan power. This tension signals imminent conflict in the capital, and potentially the collapse of the GNA’s political arrangements in western Libya… In Derna, a new agreement was reportedly signed on 13 August by local residents, members of the municipal council and the Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council (DMSC) in an effort to circumvent wider conflict and transition power to neutral actors… Benghazi witnessed a lull in fighting last week as the LNA reorganized its forces and consolidating its control, however clashes with ISIS and Benghazi Revolutionary Shura Council militants continue to take place intermittently in Benghazi’s central districts near the port.

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As political constellations are being reformed across Libya, the gap separating ISIS from non-ISIS jihadis are closing as both are finding common ground in their anti-Haftar and anti-Western aims. However, this week these distinctions are fading. Ghariyani’s statements mentioned in this week’s ISIS in Action post and the BRSC suicide bombing against LNA fighters on 2 August in Guwarsha, Benghazi are closing the gap and driving the BRSC to coordinate with ISIS…. 18 LNA soldiers were killed on 2 August and more than 20 others were injured in a suicide vehicle attack in Guwarsha district, long used as the HQ for the coalition of Islamist extremists including IS, Ansar Al Sharia, and the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC). The attack came after LNA forced managed to advance and retake Guwarsha Gate on 1 August; Benghazi’s main west gate, and a strategic position for jihadists.

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The rising tide of dissatisfaction with the Government of National Accord (GNA) in western Libya is fueling the momentum of hardline Islamists and anti-GNA factions who held demonstrations on 29 July in Tripoli… In a key development, Wissam Ben Hamid, symbolic leader of the Benghazi Shura Revolutionary Council, appeared in a video published by the Benghazi Defense Brigades media outlet (Bushra) accusing Abdul Raouf Kara, the head of Rada, of being a hypocrite and equating him to Haftar. Rada is reportedly holding more than 200 militants thought to be affiliated with Ansar Al Sharia and ISIS.

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Over the last two weeks, the Benghazi Defense Brigade (BDB) advanced to within 60 kilometers east of Benghazi, before reportedly retreating back to its base in Jufra, Libya on 22-23 July. The militia, which has enjoyed rising support in western Libya after it managed to take down an LNA helicopter with three French soldiers onboard on 17 July, is likely to conduct a new incursion into the oil crescent to retake oil wells from LNA-aligned forces and to mount another assault on Benghazi.

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In the oil crescent, the Benghazi Defense Brigade (BDB) claimed to have shot down a Libyan National Army (LNA) helicopter on 17 July near Magrun, 70 kilometers south of Benghazi. AP reports indicate that the two foreigners may have been members of French special forces. Meanwhile, the BDB managed to retake the towns of Sultan and Jelidia, which it had withdrawn from last week. LNA reinforcements had been mobilized to the area, but were unable to halt the BDB’s advance.

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Battles intensified on 6-8 July as jihadists conducted a surprise counterattack against the LNA on the evening of Eid in Ganfuda. The jihadists’ fierce resistance may demonstrate their desperation, but it casts doubts on LNA pronouncements that the jihadists had been neutralized. At the same time, there has been an escalation of conflict between the LNA and the Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council (DMSC). A three-week ceasefire was breached when the LNA conducted airstrikes on alleged DMSC targets in and around the Derna port on 9 July.

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A high-level political attempt at rapprochement in Derna culminated in a declared ceasefire last week. Nonetheless, Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council (DMSC) militants assassinated three Libyan National Army (LNA) security officers on 1 July, serving to scuttle previous progress. Meanwhile, an IED that killed two LNA security officers in a busy Benghazi street on 2 July, indicates that militants are likely to resort once more to assassinations and suicide bombings, if they continue to lose ground. The DMSC is also supporting renegade Islamist militias in Ajdabiya and Benghazi, a practice that has escalated tensions and made reconciliation between non-ISIS jihadis and the LNA even less likely.

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The Libyan National Army (LNA) made significant gains in Benghazi last week, after a blitz offensive took the district of Garyounis, including the tourist village at Ganfuda, from remnants of ISIS and the Benghazi Revolutionary Shura Council on 22 June… Conflict between the LNA and the Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council (DMSC) did not escalate last week. An LNA spokesperson stated that a two-week truce was initiated to enable a peaceful resolution between both parties. Meanwhile, the DMSC is supporting renegade Islamist militias planning to attack Ajdabiya and Benghazi that have the potential to re-escalate conflict.

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Two key types of non-state actors may now be identified vis-a-vis theLibyan National Army (LNA): The first group is comprised of Islamist actors in the cities of Benghazi, Derna and Ajdabiya, (including ISIS, Ansar Al Sharia, Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council, Benghazi Revolutionary Shura Council, Benghazi Defense Brigade and the Ajdabiya Liberation Operation Room. The second group consists of militias that were once aligned with Khalifa Haftar, who have opted to support the Government of National Accord instead. Conflict is likely to continue unabated in Benghazi between the LNA and these groups, and may escalate further in Derna and Ajdabiya in the short term.

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Over the last week, there has been increasing conflict between jihadi actors and the Libyan National Army (LNA) in eastern Libya. The LNA offensive in Benghazi continues to face fierce resistance from ISIS militants, Ansar Al Sharia (AAS) fighters and the Benghazi Revolutionary Shura Council (BRSC) fighters in Sabri and Souq Al-Hout. Meanwhile, LNA airstrikes on Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council (DMSC) targets have inspired local hostility.

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On 1 June, a group composed of hardline Islamist revolutionaries from Benghazi and Ajdabiya issued a televised statement, aired by former Libya Dawn mouthpiece Al-Nabaa, declaring the establishment of the “Benghazi Defense Corps” (BDC)… The BDC said it would begin a new phase of operations to ‘defend’ Benghazi from the Libyan National Army (LNA), and pledged full solidarity with the Benghazi Revolutionary Shura Council.

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As in recent weeks, Benghazi remains largely under Libyan National Army (LNA) control but fighting continues to take place in the city between LNA units and pockets of ISIS militants, Ansar Al Sharia fighters and the Benghazi Revolutionary Shura Council (BRSC) in the areas of Sabri and Soug Al Hout… The LNA siege of the Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council (DMSC) in Derna is ongoing, as airstrikes have continued to target DMSC positions.

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Tripoli, and the western region as a whole, is witnessing a marked increase in kidnappings and murders of civilians and officials alike. It is difficult to say if these incidents are jihadi terrorism or simply gang violence.

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