Reporting this week rolled over from the previous with the confirmed deaths of three French soldiers in a helicopter crash just west of Benghazi in Almagrun. Libya's UN backed government said on Tuesday it had summoned France's Ambassador to protest over the presence of French Special Forces in eastern Libya. The GNA considered the French presence in Libya's eastern region as a breach of international norms and sovereignty, although it’s been well documented that Special Forces teams from countries including France, Britain and the United States have been on the ground in western and eastern Libya supporting the fight against Islamist terrorists.
Demonstrations took place in Misrata, Gharyan and Zawia to denounce the French intervention and the Sarraj led GNA government, these gatherings were clearly orchestrated and were of a reasonable size with a clear anti GNA agenda passed without any incidents of note.
The week has culminated on Monday with US warplanes carrying out air strikes on positions of the so called Islamic State group in Sirte for the first time. The American air strikes on precise positions of the IS organisation caused heavy losses. The White House said US President Barack Obama authorised air strikes after a recommendation by US Secretary of Defence Ash Carter. The attack is understood to be at the request of the GNA to assist there forces in the area.
Within Tripoli a three day state of emergency was announced by the Presidency Council. Concerns about the security situation in the capital grew amid reports that there would be an attempt by supporters of the Grand Mufti Sadek Al-Ghariani to take over the city after Friday’s prayers. There is widespread disillusionment in Tripoli with the GNA`s performance because of the cash shortage, rising prices as well as electricity and water shortages.
Libya's National Oil Corporation this week welcomed the announcement by the Presidency Council that the Ras Lanuf, Es Sidra and Zuetina oil terminals would reopen without conditions and announced a new initiative to end the use of oil blockades as a political tactic. Although there are still military, political and legal obstacles, the NOC will immediately start technical works.
Tripoli and the West has again remained free of incident apart from some reported kidnappings. In Az Zawiyah armed men attacked a checkpoint which was believed to be more criminal related.
Heavy fighting has continued in Sirte with Misratan airstrikes taking place in the Al Dular neighbourhood. Two Al-Bunyan al-Marsoos fighters were shot and killed, seven others injured by ISIS snipers during clashes in the same area.
Clashes have continued within Benghazi this reporting period with Airstrikes, sniper and IED incidents all taking place within the city. General Khalifa Haftar's troops took the al-Gwarcha district of Benghazi, which has been marred by unrest since his fighters launched a campaign to drive extremists out of the city earlier this year. Six of Haftar's fighters died in clashes this week in al-Gwarcha district, including four Special Forces killed by a landmine explosion. A suicide car bomb attack exploded in the same area killing two members of the Libyan National Army.
The south remained relatively quiet as mainly criminal activity continues to be the main source of income as people smuggling still frustrates Europe. The Italian coast guard said the bodies of five migrants were recovered from the Mediterranean on Sunday, while more than 8000 people had been rescued off Libya in the last five days.
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