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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Libyan National Army led by General Haftar plans attack on Islamic State

The Libyan National Army under commander-in-chief General Khalifa Haftar is reported to be moving to attack the Islamic State stronghold of Sirte.

The report comes from this news site. Haftar forces, along with others from the south-west, started out over a week ago. The convoy contains many new vehicles that recently arrived in Libya. Some militia from Misrata also started moving towards Sirte. However the Presidential Council of the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA) under PM-designate Faiez Serraj, ordered all units to halt their advance until a unified command was set up. Some reports even mentioned that under the Libyan Political Agreement the PC filled the role of commander-in-chief. The Misrata militias appear to have obeyed the order but Haftar has not. The Telegraph reports that the forces attacking Sirte are being backed by British, American, and French special forces.
While many news reports stress the danger posed to Libya by the Islamic State and claim that it is growing in influence and territory occupied, other reports claim that it is having trouble with recruitment and financing its operations. There have been a number of articles reporting that the group has been selling chickens and eggs in the streets.
When the Islamic State seized control in the city of Sirte, they also took all the property they could including chicken farms. A former resident of Sirte said:“Relatives tell me ISIS people can now be seen standing in the streets in their black outfits with their faces covered, selling both the eggs and the chickens. And they are selling the chickens for a very cheap price of just one or two dinars.”The group is charging $7.35 a week for cleaning the streets and collecting garbage. They are also forcing homeowners and store owners to pay rent.
Iman, a 43-year-old mother who left the city just three days ago said she waited in a five-hour line at an Islamic State checkpoint in order to leave as vehicles were searched. Fighters seized what was useful to them Iman said:
“They took any food and cooking gas that people carried and only let us leave with clothes. But some people were not allowed to leave at all and were sent back.”
About 90 miles to the east in Bin Jawad, the IS has been using banknotes from the Gadaffi era..Mohamed, a former resident said:“[ISIS] is forcing shopkeepers to accept the old Libyan money,[ISIS] took over the town’s bank as soon as they came to Bin Jawad and they must have found all these old one-dinar notes in the bank vaults. Although they are not supposed to take the old money, shopkeepers have no choice but to accept it because they must obey ISIS’s rules or face the consequences.”
Sirte and other areas occupied by the Islamic State are becoming cut off from the outside world. In Sirte,, schools and many shops are closed. There are regular power cuts and fuel is scarce. The Islamic State is struggling to pay its own fighters, thought to number between 3,000 and 6,000.

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