By Rida Lyammouri
August 16th, 2016
There are two types of Islamist militant groups operating in Libya. Local groups: Benghazi Revolutionaries Shurah Council (BRSC), Darnah Revolutionaries Shurah Council (DRSC), Ajdabiya Revolutionaries Shurah Council (ARSC), Ansar al-Sharia Libya (AAS), Defense Brigade of Benghazi (DBB), Ajdabiya Operations Room (GATMJB). Regional groups: Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the Islamic State (IS).
Attacks and incidents listed below are not comprehensive and do not include all violence taking place in Libya. However these are incidents occurring in strategic areas where Libyan National Army (LNA) and its Western allies [with air support mainly] are carrying operations to chase Islamist militants out of their strongholds. Most of information is gathered through open source reporting and social media, and at times it’s difficult to confirm number of casualties and actors involved in an incident.
Key points and comments from MENASTREAM who has been following Libyan conflict very closely and recent evolvement of different groups in Libya:
- Ajdabiya Revolutionaries Shura Council (ARSC) don’t longer exist and was dissolved several months ago resulting in the creation of ‘Operations Room for the Liberation of the City Ajdabiya and Support for Benghazi Rebels.’ GATMJB as abbreviation is now accepted according to same observer.
- Ansar al-Sharia do exist but very much folded into BRSC along with Rafallah Sahati Brigade, February 17 Martyrs’ Brigade and few others that seems to have become totally folded into BRSC.
- GATMJB and DBB work together but are work very closely together pretty much like one with the GATMJB leader al-Saadi al-Nawfali being a senior commander in DB as well along with Zied Bel’am commander of Katibat Omar al-Mukhtar, Mustapha Sharkassi former LAF spokesman i.e. former LNA (Haftar), Frag Shaku, the commander of February 17 Martyrs’ Brigade and also one of the main field commanders in BRSC prior the formation of DBB.
- Increased use of suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) by BRSC could be explained by the fact they have been pushed back significantly and pretty much holed up in the corner of the ‘Western region’ Gawarsha, Ganfouda and Garyounis/south Benghazi. In this area there is an obvious possible coordination/cooperation with IS which influences this behavior. But also Ansar al-Sharia’s seemingly leading role and the strongly articulated popular support.
Note: This is a trial to see if there is need for weekly reporting about key security related events taking place in Libya.
Chronology of violent incidents in Libya: 8 – 14 August 2016
09 August 2016: Counterterrorism office in Benghazi discovered and dismantled a sleeping cell of unknown “terrorist organization,” and arrested two suspects. Weapons, cash, and explosives also seized.
11 August 2016: According to Bushra News Agency infographic (above), two airstrikes and four drones attacks were conducted in Benghazi. Reportedly 4 killed and 5 injured.
12 August 2016: According to Saraya media, a news outlet affiliated with Benghazi Shura Council, French drone strike targeted Ganfouda district in Benghazi.
13 August 2016: Two suspects arrested in Benghazi allegedly members of what referred to as terrorist organizations. The arrest took place east Benghazi at Boudzira area. Reportedly suspects are members of Dare’ Libya 1 and Rafallah al-Sahati.
13 August 2016: Islamic State targeted National Libyan Army (LNA) in Gawarsha area in Benghazi.
14 August 2016: A landmine explosion in Al-Gawarsha district killed 2 of Khalifa Haftar’s militiamen and injured 2. The IED targeted volunteering militiamen, who fight with Haftar’s forces, as they were advancing nearby Al-Gawarsha checkpoint.
08 – 10 August 2016: After days of fighting, Bonyan Al-Marsous, Libyan militia backed by U.S airstrikes claimed capturing several strategic locations from IS in Libya. Captured locations included Ouagadougou conference center, and the university of Sirte, both have been considered symbolic to IS. Misrata hospital reported to have received 16 dead and 93 wounded soldiers from Bonyan Al-Marsous forces as a result of Sirte clashes.
09 August 2016: Bonyan Al-Marsous team struck an IED at Sirte where the Libyan militia have been clashing with IS.
10 August 2016: Libyan Dawn Air Force (LDAF) plane reported crashed at Sirte due to technical difficulties while IS media arm Amaq claimed its fighters downed the warplane. 2 pilots killed.
13 August 2016: An Islamic State SVBIED targeted Bonyan Al-Marsous gathering near captured Ouagadougou conference center. 7 fighters allegedly killed.
14 August 2016: Bonyan Al-Marsous reported ongoing clashes at both residential districts near the waterfront.
09 August 2016: SDB and LNA reportedly clashed near the Naga oil field at Jufra. LNA sources also released photos of alleged IS fighters killed claiming to the group (IS) is supposedly behind the attack.
10 August 2016: Libyan Air Force (LAF) reportedly conducted airstrikes on ammunition depot belonging to DMSC.