In Benghazi, the Libyan National Army (LNA) assault against a coalition of jihadists including Islamic State (ISIS), Ansar al-Sharia and Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC) in the south-west area of Ganfuda is reaching its final stages. Last week, the LNA took control of the last remaining beaches in Ganfuda, cutting off maritime supply lines to the jihadists based in the besieged area. LNA forces also took over a major food store belonging to Ansar al-Sharia, took control of a building that reportedly housed an ISIS radio station, and destroyed a small ammunition store. Many jihadi fighters were killed and a number of their leading religious commanders were captured during the fighting.
Despite these advances, the jihadi fighters continued to inflict significant losses on the LNA last week. On 14 December, 11 LNA soldiers were killed during intense fighting in Benghazi. On 17 December, ISIS claimed responsibility for a SVBIED attack against the 210th battalion in the customs hangar inside Ganfuda. One LNA commander was killed in the attack.
In Misrata, there appears to be a move against militants affiliated with hard-line Islamists after links between these groups and ISIS were exposed during the fighting in Sirte. On 16 December, a foreign naval vessel reportedly intercepted a vessel from Misrata heading to Benghazi, loaded with weapons and personnel. Reports say that the Libyan vessel was boarded by the foreign maritime unit and inspected before being forced to return to Misrata’s steel factory port, from where it had launched. The blocking of the vessel follows a decision on 8 December by the governor of Misrata’s municipality which prevents supply vessels sailing from Misrata to Benghazi, except those carrying food, medicine or other civilian goods.