Two major pronouncements were made this week. 1. Misratan forces continued their protracted advance into Sirte as battles supposedly moved into what Banyan Marsus is calling their ‘final stages’. 2. Simultaneously as the fight against ISIS has become less popular for some militia men in Tripoli, non-ISIS jihadis such as the grand mufti are expressing support for ISIS…. US support is also fuelling divides with Misratan ranks between pro-GNA formations and more anti-GNA hard-line militias. These divides may escalate the closer the BM gets to victory in Sirte. Anti GNA sentiment remains high in Misratan ranks, with many fighters rumoured to be actively ready to move against the GNA in Tripoli after victory in Sirte.

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After fierce fighting on 28-30 July, the Misratan-led Bunyan Marsus coalition took full control of the Hay Dollar area in Sirte. The operation has thus far cost more than 300 Bunyan Marsus lives, with another 1,500 injured… On 1 August, Government of National Accord Prime Minister Fayez Serraj made a televised speech announcing the beginning of US airstrikes against ISIS in Sirte, following a formal request by the Presidential Council.

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In western Libya, the Misratan-led Bunyan Marsus coalition made more gains against ISIS this week in Sirte. The coalition took control of the Hay El Dollar and Area “2” while continuing to conduct airstrikes against ISIS positions in the Ouagadougou complex. Despite these advances, the fight with ISIS is likely to be prolonged as the group continues to mount suicide vehicle attacks in a number of Misratan-controlled areas. The Sirte port remains under Bunyan Marsus control, despite continued ISIS attempts to retake the port using targeted suicide attacks.

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Fighting this week focused on the ISIS stronghold in the Ouagadougou Centre, Ibn Sina Hospital and Sirte University areas, with airstrikes and helicopter gunships featuring heavily in the battles. In short, very little progress is being made to dislodge ISIS from these areas. ISIS fighters still appear to have a presence in areas previously taken by Bunyan Marsus in Sirte’s south and west, and ISIS also appears to be attempting to flank Bunyan Marsus, indicating a more prolonged guerrilla war in the city.

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In Sirte, the Government of National Accord’s (GNA) Bunyan Marsus coalition continues to advance in the city, tightening the noose around ISIS militants holed up in its central areas… Bunyan Marsus leaders have said they expect the battle to be completed within the next two weeks, although other analysts predict a more drawn out battle… There is a suspicion that the senior ISIS leadership has already evacuated from Sirte. Informed sources say that Libyan ISIS members have attempted to defect to friendly Islamist militias south of Sirte, some of whom are nominally aligned with the Misratans.

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The port of Sirte port is now reportedly under the control of the Government of National Accord’s Bunyan Marsus coalition, after it managed to fully recapture the Suwawa area from ISIS on 1 July. Last week saw intensive fighting, with Misratan fighters making significant advances into the city, retaking the Zafaraan area and 700 residential district on 2 July. Meanwhile, airstrikes and heavy artillery continued to pound ISIS targets throughout the week.

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The GNA’s Misratan-led Bunyan Marsus operations room launched a massive ground assault on 21 June in an attempt to capture the centre of Sirte. However, ISIS snipers and IED’s repeatedly dealt Bunyan Marsus significant losses throughout the week… At this time, Bunyan Marsus commanders estimate only 500-700 ISIS fighters remain in the city, contrary to higher estimates by the CIA and other foreign military sources.

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This week witnessed the slowing momentum of the Government of National Accord’s (GNA) anti–ISIS operation in Sirte, as fierce ISIS counterattacks stalled the operation’s advance. This development is chiefly attributed to two factors: 1) ISIS is beginning to push back on the Bunyan Marsus advance inside Sirte, successfully and repeatedly hitting GNA forces behind their own front lines, and 2) the ‘defection’ of the hardline Islamist factions (e.g. Benghazi Defense Brigade) and other associated militias.

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GNA-aligned forces from Misrata managed to take full control of Sirte port’s and eastern coastline in Sawawa on 10 June. Libyan navy vessels blockaded the port as GNA forces advanced from the southeast, aided by airstrikes throughout last week. ISIS is currently hemmed into 20 square kilometers at Sirte’s center. Further, ISIS has lost control of all its coastal territory and the port will likely be used as a key transport route for GNA forces until ISIS is eliminated.

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The Government of National Accord’s Misratan-led Bunyan Marsus operation room continued to make significant strides against ISIS this week, advancing to within two kilometres southwest of Sirte, and forcing ISIS to retreat towards the city. However, this does not mean that a frontal assault on Sirte is imminent. Despite its recent losses, ISIS is still rumoured to have sleeper cells in and around Surman, Misrata and Sabratha.

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ISIS control of Libya’s coastline has been reduced to approximately 200 km east and west of Sirte… Significant gains made by the Government of National Accord’s (GNA) forces converging on Sirte from the west and southwest have thrown the ISIS rank and file into noticeable chaos.

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The war between Misrata and ISIS is heating up. Simultaneously, Haftar has not engaged ISIS in any meaningful way this week. Although most of the talk of offensives against Sirte is comprised of hot air, real engagements have started to kick off on the Misratan side and these are likely to occasion countermeasures by ISIS. For example, On 22 May, landmines left by ISIS near Abu Grein killed an LNA officer and wounded two soldiers.

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ISIS now controls almost 300 kilometres of Libyan coastline and has expanded its control to seven other towns 150 kilometres west and southwest of Sirte. Residents of Sirte have reported tighter ISIS security measures, in addition to widespread stockpiling of food and supplies, anticipating an imminent attack on the city. A large proportion of the population has evacuated, however some …

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A surprise ISIS attack on Misratan Military Council forces in Abu Grein this week has allowed ISIS to capture several towns southwest of Sirte and rapidly institute its control over the local population. The attack, which occurred on 5 and 6 May, included two suicide bombings (by Tunisian ISIS members). The fighting killed 12 Misratans and eight ISIS militants. The …

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In Sirte, ISIS is taking unprecedented measures as the buildup of rival Libyan forces towards a battle in Sirte is almost complete. ISIS is reported to have executed, by firing squad an army captain, named as Ahnaish Qaddafi, and two other soldiers, both bothers, as it tries to control public dissent in the town before battle commences with anti-ISIS forces …

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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 …

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