ISIS continues to keep a tight grip on Sirte despite increasing hardship faced by the city’s population. Basic food and other items are increasingly scarce, while the exodus of Sirte’s residents is ongoing. ISIS has also enforced mandatory Sharia courses and regularly conducted raids on the homes of local dissidents.
An ISIS video statement on 19 March titled ‘Message to the people of Islam in Libya’ described the Government of National Accord (GNA) as a ‘crusader apostate government’ and vowed to take the fight to Tripoli. ISIS accused the LNA of supporting civilian militias (Sahawat) and ‘revolutionary’ forces affiliated with the General National Congress (GNC) in Tripoli, denouncing all as apostates. The video also presented Tripoli’s Mufti, Sadeq Al Ghariyani, as an ‘apostate’ collaborator.
After the latest attacks in Brussels on 22 March, ISIS fighters in Sirte engaged in celebratory gunfire and distributed candy to residents in the city, and nearby towns.