Fighting continued unabated in Benghazi where LNA troops aligned with Operation Dignity registered again losses at the hands of the Benghazi Revolutionary Shura Council and ISIS cells active in the city. In particular, heavy fighting was registered in the al-Sabri district and in the immediate proximity of the commercial port. Here, members of IS reportedly took control of a military directorate building on Friday, only to lose it again on Saturday. To regain control of the strategic Bu Ashreen building, however, LNA forces lost at least nine men. LNA supporters argue that an ISIS surprise attack on the Bu Ashreen building on Friday should be seen as an attempt to open a corridor to evacuate fighters stuck in the besieged al-Sabri district, where ISIS members have been holed up with no supplies for months. However, similar declarations have repeatedly been made by Operation Dignity members and supporters in the past months, only to see ISIS and Benghazi Shura Council groups resurface and pose a significant challenge in the span of a few days.
In Derna, fighting also continues, pitting the Derna’s Mujahideen Shura Council (DMSC) against both ISIS cells and LNA forces. Last week saw IS cells launching an offensive from the al-Fataiah area in a bid to regain control over Derna. Reports indicate, however, that the offensive backfired and that DMSC forces not only repelled it, but made further gains, pushing IS forces even deeper in the countryside.
After the initial clashes in Sirte, IS fighters in town have reportedly been trying to make an example out of the Farjani tribe and of the Salafi cells that rose up against them. ISIS members reportedly shelled the whole District No. 3 before going on a house-by-house manhunt of their enemies. Reports indicate that at least 200 members of the Farjani tribe and of the Salafi network affiliated with Khalid al-Farjani were killed in cold blood. Furthermore, the city’s Gamal Abdul Nasser clinic where a number of wounded Farjani fighters were being treated was set on fire, killing all inside it at the time. Several others who rose against ISIS were crucified and put on display in the city’ streets in a bid to scare the population. Some families have reportedly even been prevented from burying their fallen in local cemeteries as ISIS considers them ‘people who died outside of Islam’.
The local ISIS spiritual leader, Hussein al-Karamy, further seized this opportunity to lash out against the Salafis, describing them as a cancer that needs to be eradicated and re-naming the local Cordoba Mosque in memory of one of ISIS forefathers: the Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.