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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Islamic State in Libya now attacked from the east by Petroleum Facilities Guard

Salem Jedran, mayor of the town of Ajdabiya, says troops of the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) are advancing toward the town of Bin Jawad, which has been held by the Islamic State (IS) since early January.

Jedran claimed that clashes are underway on eastern outskirts of the town. Bin Jawad is about 160 kilometers or 99 miles from the city of Sirte the main stronghold of IS in Libya. A recent tweet includes photos allegedly of the PFG near Bin Jawad: "#Libya : Pro-PFG account released pics of #PFG near Bin Jawad. Localization could be 19km from Bin Jawad - FB ".
The Libya Herald reports that two units of the central region (PFG) from Ajdabiya had moved within a few kilometers of Nufliva and Bin Jawad. A source close to the head of the guards, Ibrahim Jadhran, told the paper that it was "amost" in control of Bin Jawad and very near Nufliya. Jadhran is an opponent of Haftar. Reportedly he has been fired and replaced by the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR) of PM Al-Thinni. The firing appears not to have taken effect. Jadhran supports the GNA unlike Haftar. The area is heavily mined and two PFG fighters are already reported wounded and sent to Ras Lanuf for medical treatment. The two towns being attacked are thirty kilometers apart and are being attacked by separate units. Nufliya is being approached through desert tracks rather than the road.
The Islamic State is now facing attacks from two fronts. Reports say that the Misrata militia are just 30 kilometers from the city center. The Libyan Gazette reports that forces loyal to the Government of National Accord are now surrounding Sirte. Another report claims that the forces have taken control of the Khaleej power steam plant, even closer to Sirte at 20 kilometers. It had been overtaken by IS just a year ago. The Facebook page of the western operations room Bunyan Marsous (BMOR) claimed that they are working together with the PFG. A PFG source said he did not know but that the Misratan troops would not be allowed to move east to Nufliva and Bin Jawad. No doubt Haftar will be perturbed by what is happening. The PFG supports more power for the eastern area Cyrenaica.
In spite of the fact the Islamic State will have huge problems defending two fronts, Haftar has not yet attacked from the east even though he announced he was marching to liberate Sirte weeks ago. He recently had a council of war with his eastern commanders. His western Zintan area Chief of Staff, Abdul Razak Al-Nazhuri, was not present. He recently threatened to "liberate" Tripoli. The GNA PM Serraj and the UN's Martin Kobler do not seem to have noticed. The meeting discussed the army buildup for the advance towards Sirte. Apparently the army is gathered south of the town of Ajdabiya and the group talked of the logistics of a westward advance. They also talked about security in Benghazi after all the militants had been cleared out. Haftar may find that his enemies within the PFG and in the Misrata militia have already defeated IS before he gets started. He has been busy with Operation Volcano attacking Shura Council jihadists who were instrumental in clearing the Islamic State out of the city.

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