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 converging on Sirte.
Ahnaish is said to have been a leading member of the Qaddadfa tribe in the Abu Hadi district south of the town and was killed for supporting the ‘apostate’ Gaddafi. The two brothers were reportedly members of the PFG from Soloug but were captured by ISIS in Derna and then taken to Sirte. The killing indicates that ISIS is likely to target more Gaddafi loyalists and sympathisers as it fears a new uprising in the town especially if arms make their way to these dissidents in the city.
ISIS also reportedly killed five people in Ben Jawad, east of Sirte, among them, on 30 April, two teenagers who were thrown from the roof of the highest building in the place. Last week IS forces partially withdrew from Ben Jawad to Nawfaliyah. Clashes with LNA units reportedly took place on 2 April around 30 km south of the town.
ISIS is said to have heavily mined the entry ways into Sirte as well as locations inside it to prevent either the LNA from entering from the east or Misratan forces from the west. ISIS erected sand barriers on the roads and several more checkpoints were set up around the town to restrict movement in and out of the city. More than 200 families are believed to have fled the town recently ahead of the battle.
According to a resident who managed to leave three days ago and get to Tripoli, Sirte is a humanitarian catastrophe. There are dire shortages of food, money and medicine – and the situation, together with fears of an imminent attack by the LNA or Misratan-led forces, or both, is pushing the town’s remaining residents to flee, the Libya Herald has been told.
According to the resident, ISIS set up a women’s unit who have been going round house to check to see if people have satellite TV or any printed material that could be deemed ‘haram’ (illegal). Anyone wanting to leave Sirte must abandon all their belongings, the resident said.
He added that IS has said that those leaving everything behind. “If they leave, Daesh confiscates everything. They sell the TVs, the electronic goods, anything they can remove. They want the money. Given the situation, most people in Sirte were desperate to leave, he added. “But once they have decided to flee, they must lose everything.”
Other desperate measures taken by the group reportedly include kidnapping young children in front of their families to persuade them to stay.
A group of 13 male and female Ukrainian medical workers reportedly managed to make it alive to Brega after escaping from IS-held territory via Bin Jawwad on 30 April. The medics may have been trapped in Sirte when IS took over the town in February 2015. They were smuggled to Bin Jawwad and picked up by members of the Petroleum Facilities Guard and taken first to Ras Lanuf. However ISIS released a video titled (Islamic Police in Bin Jawwad) on 3 May.
On 30 April, ISIS has also released a new video threatening retaliation against the LNA and Haftar for Derna. The video showed a recap of past executions and other scenes of ISIS battles in Derna.