Libya’s Shifting Sands: Sirte – Al Jazeera World

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Al Jazeera World – Libya’s Shifting Sands: Sirte

In the second episode of Libya’s Shifting Sands, Libyan government-backed forces find themselves fighting ISIL in the central coastal city of Sirte, 850 kilometres west of Derna.

ISIL moved on Sirte before it was forced from Derna, partly because it saw cities where the majority of people were opposed to the revolution of 2011 as prime targets. But by 2015, the government troops were fighting a losing battle. They expected to be boosted by forces controlled by the renegade General Khalifa Haftar – but his operation proved less effective than anticipated.

In Derna, the government forces and local armed Islamist groups accused Haftar of colluding with ISIL. They referred to his group as Operation Dignity forces, after his campaign against supporters of the February 2011 revolution in Benghazi.

“Some people and military personnel in Sirte supported the old regime. So they believed that helping ISIL was better than having the 17th February revolutionaries in Sirte,” explains Ismail Shokri, a Libyan intelligence officer. So when the March 2015 fight against ISIL in Sirte began, “I remember Operation Dignity planes bombing Battalion 166 as they were fighting ISIL”, he says.

They [ISIL] weren’t targeted or bombed so they arrived safely in Sirte, protected by Haftar. He claims to fight terrorism but why didn’t he bomb them?

Brigadier Mohammed Al-Ghusri, in charge of operation al-Bunyan al-Marsous

As the government backed-forces were doing their best to fight ISIL in Sirte, General Haftar’s forces launched what they called ‘Operation Qurdabiya Two’, their supposed bid to liberate Sirte from ISIL. But it fell well short.

Watch both episodes here: http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/aljazeeraworld/2017/06/libya-shifting-sands-derna-170613115119424.html

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