On 5 January, a group of jihadi fighters including ISIS, Ansar al-Sharia (AS) and Benghazi Revolutionary Shura Council (BRSC) militants attempted a coordinated breakout from the Sabri and Ganfuda areas in Benghazi, which are currently besieged by Libyan National Army (LNA) forces. The jihadis used IEDs, suicide bombs and around 20 vehicles to break out of the area. 14 LNA soldiers were killed in the fighting while at least 11 were injured. The LNA clashed with the escaping fighters between Sloug and Ganfuda, just south of Benghazi. Vehicles and ammunition were seized from the defeated jihadis, while IEDs and suicide belts allegedly belonging to ISIS commander ‘Moez al-Tunisi’ were also seized.The LNA arrested a number of jihadi fighters who surrendered, including Nizar al-Tira, the official spokesperson for the BRSC.
Al-Tira reportedly told his captors that Wissam Bin Hamid, self-styled hero of Benghazi’s Islamist forces and commander of the BRSC and allied AS fighters, is dead. His death was also corroborated by other high profile BRSC supporters from Misrata. However, other sources deny this claim and the news is yet to be confirmed. On 7 January, ISIS accounts on social media accused supporters of the BRSC of hiding their commander’s death to profit from war.
On 6 January, the LNA’s 152 Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) infantry brigade captured a senior AS commander named Khaled al-Ammary. Al-Ammary was with two others who died after triggering their suicide belts near the 60km checkpoint south of Ajdabiya in the oil crescent. On 8 January, the LNA also captured AS member Mustafa al-Subaihi just a few kilometres south of Ajdabiya. Subaihi was also member of the 17th February Brigade coalition and is reported to be closely associated with the BRSC and the Benghazi Defense Brigades. These jihadis were part of the group of fighters who escaped from the LNA’s siege in Benghazi’s Ganfuda area on 5 January.
On 9 January, the Derna Mujahadeen Shura Council (DMSC) issued a statement demanding all jihadis close ranks against Haftar and re-pledge loyalty to Grand Mufti Sadeq al-Ghariyani.