Islamic State in Libya Activities: Week of 17–23 February

17 February:

  • Unverified reports indicate that Hamza al-Bahiji, a prominent member of IS in Ajdabiya, was killed near Qalouz Street. It is unclear what lead to his purported death. Additionally, LNA troops clashed with ASC fighters in the Industrial District of Ajdabiya. (Libya 24 TV)(Libya 24 TV)
  • An unofficial statement claimed that yet another MSC Derna position was infiltrated by an IS fighter who detonated an IED. The statement indicates that the position was in the Zahra al-Ahmar area, and names the operation as part of the Abu Nasr al-Ansari Campaign. Additionally the group claimed to have attacked MSC Derna in the Sahel al-Shariqya area with artillery strikes, IEDs, and direct fire. (Twitter)
  • LNA forces reportedly clashed with IS fighters in the Hawari neighborhood of Benghazi. (LNA Statement)

18 February:

  • MSC Derna forces advanced against IS forces as the latter retreated to the middle the 400 Neighborhood in Derna under heavy artillery fire. MSC Derna forces also seized several positions on al-Salat( الصالات) Street and in the Workshops (الورش) area south of Sahal al-Sharqiya in the city. MSC Derna published a video showing its forces fighting urban street battles against IS in the 400 Neighborhood, using a T-55 Tank, APC, and mortars. (al-Wasat)(MSC Derna Media)

19 February:

  • U.S. defense officials confirmed that an American aircraft based out of RAF Lakenheath targeted IS militants including Noreddine Chouchane, a Tunisian involved in both the Sousse and Bardo attacks. The strike destroyed a farmhouse southwest of Sabratha, killing at least 45. Two Serbian Embassy Diplomats kidnapped in November 2015 were also allegedly killed in the attack, making it likely that the two had been kidnapped by IS forces. The Pentagon claims that the farmhouse was being used by IS as a training facility for foreign fighters and that “the Libyan government” was notified of the attack in advance. It is unclear which government was notified, but GNC Prime Minister Khalifa al-Gwell confirmed that the Tripoli government received no such warning. No reporting has emerged regarding the success of the attack, although IS documents were found in the debris. (CNN)(BuzzFeed)(Twitter)(Pentagon Statement)(Twitter)(Long War Journal)(BBC)(Libya Herald)(Libya Observer)(Libya Herald)
  • Officials from the Omar al-Mukhtar Operations Room claimed that LNA fighters have begun to engage IS militants in the Fatih area of Derna. This is the closest that LNA troops have advanced to Derna for almost a year. (Libya Herald)
  • The Islamic State claimed to have targeted LNA fighters with IEDs and precision small-arms fire near Shajara Square in the downtown area of Benghazi. (Twitter)
  • Wilayat Tarablus of the Islamic State published a picture set showing Friday prayers at the Rabat Mosque in the city of Sirte. (IS Media Office of Tarablus)
  • Unconfirmed sources report that IS militants are constructing field hospitals in Sirte, Nowfaliya, and Ben Jawad, indicating that they may be anticipating significant military action. (al-Wasat)

20 February:

  • The Sabratha Military Council released a statement announcing that it would mobilize its forces in order to protect local citizens and their properties from IS in the town, condemning those who sheltered members of the terrorist group. (Libya Observer)

21 February:

  • A Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) was killed by IS forces while traveling to Ras Lanuf from Ajdabiya. Unconfirmed reports indicate that IS forces who recently fled Ajdabiya were responsible. (Libya 24 TV)(Akhbar Libya 24)
  • Unidentified (possibly foreign) warplanes struck a ship allegedly carrying ammunition and weapons for IS off the coast of Sabratha. (Libya’s Channel)(Levantine Group)(Afrigate)(Libya 24 TV)
  • IS fighters, allegedly of Tunisian and Moroccan origin, conducted a failed IED attack on the municipal council building in the city of Zlitan, heightening security. A local citizen was also found executed, and his body thrown into a local store. (al-Wasat)
  • Libya Dawn aircraft bombed IS positions in Sirte. The specific targets and success of the operation is unknown. (Libya Observer)
  • A source within the HoR claimed that the LNA is in the process of creating a brigade for deployment to Sirte for anti-IS operations. (al-Wasat)
  • Local sources report that IS is building a site for public stonings in the city of Sirte. (al-Wasat)
  • IS published two pictures of its fighters reading propaganda newsletters while on guard duty. (IS Media Office of Barqa)
  • A Yemeni IS leader in Sirte allegedly threatened to send suicide attackers to Misrata in retaliation for the U.S. airstrike in Sabratha. (al-Wasat)

22 February:

  • Hamad Abdulsalam al-Azuz, a IS leader in Derna, was shot and killed on Wadi Street in the city. (Libyan News 1)
  • IS released a statement claiming to have attacked a number of MSC Derna checkpoints using a variety of weapons and a VBIED. Separate reporting indicated that a VBIED detonated near a carwash and filling station at an entrance to the city of Derna. (al-Wasat)(IS Media Office of Barqa)
  • Suspected IS militants attacked the Fida Oilfield south of Sirte, setting two partially filled storage tanks ablaze before retreating. (Libya Herald)(al-Wasat)(Reuters)

23 February:

  • Local Sabratha militias under the Sabratha Military Council and allegedly supported by the Rada Militia attacked IS- held locations near the city. Unconfirmed reports indicate that the Sabrathan forces seized an IS position, with 4 IS fighters and 4 militia fighters killed in the clashes. (Afrigate)(Libya Observer)(Libya Observer)
  • MSC Derna forces repelled an IS operation attempting to advance from the Fatih area into Derna, as IS forces entered the 400 Neighborhood and failed to seize the Bayat Al-Radwan mosque, advancing to the Derna corniche area before being forced back by MSC Derna with the unofficial support of two LNA helicopters. Six MSC Derna fighters were killed in the fighting. An IS leader, Muftah Abu Faraj (Abu Basir al-Libi) was killed in the failed attack, and 3 IS tanks and armored vehicles were destroyed. Unconfirmed reports indicated that IS claimed responsibility for a car bomb that killed an Ansar al-Sharia (ASL) leader, Tamim Ali Klafah, in the city. (Libya 24 TV)(al-Wasat)(Libya Herald)
  • Libya Dawn aircraft conducted air strikes against IS positions at the River Company on the outskirts of Sirte. (al-Wasat)
  • IS allegedly executed four individuals in Sirte, two by stoning and the others by shot to the head. (al-Wasat)
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