Troops loyal to the UN-brokered Government of National Accord(GNA) are advancing further into territory formerly controlled by the Islamic State in Libya (IS).
On the western front, troops under the Al-Bunyan Al-Marsoos (Solid Structure) have advanced almost to Sirte and have captured the steam power plant on the outskirts of the city.
Troops coming from the south have managed to control Jarif and surrounding area. In Sirte itself, the Islamic State closed down its courts days ago and IS fighters and police vanished from the streets. IS also closed down its radio station. The Solid Structure operations room announced that three of its forces had been killed and 20 injured during recent clashes. A recent tweet claims the city appears virtually empty. Seventy five have been reported killed since the operation against the Islamic State began. IS has mounted a number of suicide attacks using vehicles.
On the eastern front, the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) that are allied with the GNA took control of the town of Nawfiliva around 130 kilometers east from the IS stronghold of Sirte. They had captured the town of Ben Jawad further east earlier with the loss of five fighters. No troops were lost in taking Nawfiliva. A new operations room was established in the east to coordinate attacks. The PFG is an opponent of Haftar, the commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) who does not recognize the GNA. The LNA is the armed forces of the HoR.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Martin Kobler, claimed that the various militia in the country must unite in order to defeat the Islamic State or Daesh as he likes to call it. Kobler said at a meeting with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault that a united command structure was needed under the control of Faiez Serraj the PM of the GNA. Kobler said: “One point must be very clear. The fight against Daesh must first be a Libyan fight and a united fight.” He said nobody acting alone will succeed and security actors in the west and east must unite their forces under a joint command structure under the GNA. Ayrault said that the priority was to incorporate General Haftar who heads the LNA with western militias. There is absolutely no sign that this will happen.
Haftar has claimed it is unthinkable for him to join GNA forces until all the militias aligned with the GNA were disbanded. This is not likely to happen any time soon since the GNA relies on the militia for security. Kobler said that he has tried to hold talks with Haftar but Haftar refused. The attacks on IS from the east and the west and also the south have greatly reduced the area held by the IS and brought the Misrata militia on the western front to the outskirts of Sirte. It seems quite possible for the Islamic State to be defeated without Haftar agreeing to a unified command under the GNA.
Haftar launched his own march towards Sirte weeks ago but for some reason has not attacked them at all. Instead he has launched Operation Volcano against the Shura Council of Derna who were actually instrumental in driving IS out of the city. Kobler's waiting for Haftar to join a unified command makes little sense, when the present forces appear strong enough to defeat IS, especially if the west provides them with more arms and ammunition. Already, UK special forces appear to be helping on the western front.
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Ken is a retired philosophy professor living in the boondocks of Manitoba, Canada, with his Filipina wife. He enjoys reading the news and writing articles. Politically Ken is on the far left of the political spectrum on many issues.