Oil Crescent security fragile as LNA calls for reinforcements – December 17

Monday, 14th September, 2020

This week was marked by increased Libyan National Army (LNA) presence in the Oil Crescent region and its surrounding areas following rumors of a potential attack due to reports of Ibrahim Jathran’s forces mobilizing near As Saddadah. area. Meanwhile, in Tripoli, an attack on the house of a former militia commander marks the ongoing spate of incidents targeting militia commanders across the capital city. Beyond this, a circulated video of LNA soldiers threatening to attack Tripoli could fuel anti-LNA sentiment in the West and potentially undermine the recent security arrangements across the capital city.

The latest reports suggest the head of the Information Office of the LNA’s 73rd Infantry Brigade, Al-Monthir Al-Khartoush, ordered the mobilization of the 165th Infantry Battalion to the Oil Crescent region on 15 Dec. Al-Khartoush stated that additional reinforcements stand as efforts to increase the strength of the defense line in anticipation of any orders by the head of the LNA, Khalifa Haftar. Additionally, AlKhartoush noted the presence of military units of Sirte’s Greater Operations Room under the command of General Salim AlDiryag, stationed at several points surrounding the Oil Crescent. Sirte’s Greater Operations Room reportedly conducts ongoing patrols in the areas of Al-Mabruk Field, Zellah, Jufra, reaching up to Wadi Bay.

On 11 Dec, reports emerged over suspicious movements of suspected Islamic State (IS) affiliates near Al-Mabruk Field, South of Sirte. In a separate incident, an unidentified aerial bombardment targeted a convoy of suspected fleeing IS militants in Wadi Jarif, East of Sirte, on 14 Dec. Thus far, there has been no claim of responsibility.

Meanwhile, Sirte’s Protection Force declared a state of high alert following movements of pro-LNA forces South of the city on 14 Dec. The state of alert followed reports of military formations affiliated with the LNA reportedly advancing towards towns Southwest of Sirte, including the areas of Wadi AlHamar, Wadi Abu Najim, Wadi Al-Lood and additional areas on Sirte’s outskirts and close to the central region. Whilst some observers suggest the LNA’s mobilization towards the Bani Walid area highlights a new push to advance Westwards in order to prevent further attacks by Jathran-affiliated groups, the Benghazi Defence Brigade (BDB) and/or IS, it is vital for the LNA to remain alert and locate new fronts, whilst preventing internal rifts.

In Libya’s South, the ongoing closure of Sharara Oil Field continues to result in vast economic and production cuts. Reports of 12 Southern cities protesting in favor of the demands of the “Anger of Fezzan Movement”, inciting the closure of Sharara, suggests the field’s shutdown could persist. The movement’s spokesman called on Fayez Serraj to visit the South and listen to the demands of the people, noting dire living conditions despite the recent delivery of cash and fuel supplies.

In Tripoli, an attack on the residence of a former militia commander highlights an ongoing campaign targeting militia commanders across the city.

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