IS attack targets Kaam CP; heavy clashes erupt in Tripoli - August 27

This week was marked by an Islamic State (IS) attack targeting a checkpoint between Khoms and Zliten. Meanwhile, heavy clashes erupted in Tripoli’s South between Al-Kaniat militia and the Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade (TRB). Thus far, the clashes have undermined the capital city’s security outlook and threaten to expand across other areas of Tripoli.

On 25 Aug, the Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility via its Amaq publication for the armed attack targeting the Kaam checkpoint, West of Zliten. The attack resulted in at least 7 fatalities and is the closest documented IS attack to the capital city after the 02 May complex attack on the High National Election Commission (HNEC) building in Tripoli.

Regardless, with the latest Kaam CP attack, IS has demonstrated yet again capability and intent to carry out attacks across the country. The attack demonstrated IS militants’ capability to mobilize rapidly given it closely followed an alleged audio recording of IS self-declared leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi on 22 Aug. In the recording, Al-Baghdadi called on followers in Libya, Syria and Iraq to mobilize and carry out attacks, while urging them to remain “patient”. The attack highlights how localized the IS threat can be in Libya. One of the attackers reportedly lived in the Souq Al Khamis area, near AlKhoms, which is unusual given past hitand-run operations where militants would attack and later flee the scene.

Meanwhile, there were reports of heavy gunfire and explosions in Tripoli’s Salah Eddein, Khela Al-Furjan and Wadi Al-Rabie areas, while the road in front of AlYarmouk Camp in the Khela Al-Furjan area was blocked by the Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade (TRB) due to heavy clashes between the Al-Kaniat militia and the TRB at approximately 0700hrs on 27 Aug. The clashes erupted on 26 Aug but resumed in the early hours of 27 Aug.

The clashes follow a week of tensions building up between Al-Kaniat and the TRB, corroborating Whispering Bell’s assessment in the past weekly report over the potential for tensions to escalate. Meanwhile, alliances between militias, whether newly-formed or existing, could expand the clashes to other areas across the capital city. Some observers suggest the recent peace agreement between Misrata, Tarhouna, and Zintan could indicate the beginning of a coalition against Tripoli’s main militias to regain lost territory in the capital city. There remains the possibility of an agreement given Al-Kaniat, a General National Congress (GNC)-leaning militia, has proven it can be amenable to negotiate, including with the Government of National Accord (GNA) and/or the Libyan National Army (LNA). However, should Al-Kaniat seek to expand further into Tripoli, it would require the support of Misrata or Zintan to engage pro-GNA militias. Overall, the clashes are yet another reminder of the GNA’s lack of oversight over militias nominally under its command, which could further undermine its public image. Politically, eastern factions would likely exploit the clashes to renew allegations and reinforce the narrative that Tripoli is under the control of militias.

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