ISIS continues to control Sirte, increasing its restrictions on civilians over the course of Christmas week. ISIS told residents that anyone caught celebrating Libya’s independence day, Christmas or New Year’s Eve would be punished. Last week, a young local who participated in the revolt against ISIS in the summer was also executed.
New reports suggest that the group is using land in Harawah previously owned by Col. Abdallah Mansour, a Qadhafi loyalist, as training grounds for their fighters. Other reports also mention that more than a dozen Egyptians who travelled through southern Libya have arrived in Sirte to join the group.
The city remains under a nominal aerial blockade of the LNA, but more reconnaissance flights by unidentified aircraft were again reported last week. The latest UN resolution enshrining the GNA as a sole government for Libya and pledging international support to respond to threats (including IS) means that Sirte is likely to be a hotspot for any international action against IS in Libya. This is demonstrated in Martin Kobler’s interview with Rana Jawad.
In Derna battles between the DMSC forces and ISIS continue to take place in the Eastern Sahel and Fatieh areas, with ISIS noticeably more entrenched than previous weeks. A new explosion destroyed the municipal guard building in Sheeha area on the western side of the city. This is the fifth explosion claimed by ISIS in the western side of the city in the last two months, and indicates that IS still enjoys active operatives inside the city even in areas it does not control. ISIS is also shelling Dahr Al Hamar area south west of Derna. The recent incidents in the western regions of the city may indicate ISIS preparations for another offensive against the DMSC forces .