Battle of Sirte (2015)

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Battle of Sirte (2015)
Part of the Second Libyan Civil War
Sirte2.jpg
Mathābah al-Madīnah, Assembly building, in Sirte (2007)
Date14 March – 31 May 2015[1]
(2 months, 2 weeks and 3 days)
LocationSirte, Libya
Result Major ISIL victory
Belligerents
Libya Libya Shield Force

 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

Commanders and leaders

Libya General Mohammad al-Ajtal (Army Commander)[2]

Libya Suliman Ali Mousa[3]

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Nabil al-Anbari (ISIL commander of North Africa)

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Ali Al-Qarqaa (ISIL Emir of Nofaliya)
Strength
Unknown Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant 2,000 fighters[4]
Casualties and losses
10 killed[1][5][6] 41 killed[1][6][7]

The Battle of Sirte refers to the battle in the spring of 2015, in the region of Sirte, Libya between the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Libya Shield Force. ISIL forces had been present in the city since February 2015,[8] before the Fall of Nofaliya. After Nofaliya fell to ISIL forces, the Tripoli-based government had decided to send reinforcements to recapture Sirte.[9]

The battle[edit]

The fighting began 14 March 2015, between forces of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and the forces of the Libya Shield Force. No death toll was initially given, but the fighting was described as being violent, and stopped at dusk.[10] Among those killed was Ahmed al-Rouissi, a Tunisian ISIL commander.[11]

On 18 March, 12 Tripoli government soldiers were killed during fighting against Islamic State fighters; 10 in Nofaliya and 2 in Ben Jawad.[12]

On 25 March, ISIL attacked a Brigade 166 checkpoint, 15 kilometers west of Sirte, killing five militiamen.[5]

Over the next two months, sporadic fighting took place around Sirte. On 20 May, ISIL forces again attacked a Brigade 166 position. According to a Libya Dawn official, 23 ISIL fighters and one soldier were killed.[6] On 28 May ISIL captured the nearly-ruined Ghardabiya Air Base and the Great Man-Made River water project outside of Sirte when Libyan Dawn forces withdrew.[1][13] Over the next few days, Libya Dawn forces withdrew to positions 12 miles west of Sirte, after ISIL advanced to the east, south, and west of the city.[1]

Aftermath[edit]

During August and September, new clashes erupted in Sirte between pro-Gaddafi loyalists and ISIL forces.[14] On 23 September, ISIL once again asserted its control over the whole of Sirte after it expelled all the remaining pro-Gaddafi elements.

In February 2016, U.S. officials believed that there were 5,000 to 6,000 ISIL fighters in Libya,[15] and gave a maximum estimate of up to 6,500.[16] This marked an increase from previous estimates in the 2,000 to 3,000 range.[15] Many of ISIL's new recruits came from Iraq, Syria and Tunisia.[16] At this point, ISIL's strength was increasing in Libya while simultaneously declining in Iraq and Syria.[15]

In May 2016, the Government of National Accord launched a new offensive to retake Sirte.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Western Officials Alarmed as ISIS Expands Territory in Libya". The New York Times. 1 June 2015. Retrieved 18 June 2015. 
  2. ^ "Combats entre l'EI et Fajr Libya à Syrte". L'Orient-Le Jour. Retrieved 22 March 2015. 
  3. ^ "On the Frontline of Libya's Fight Against the Islamic State". Vice. 14 April 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2015. 
  4. ^ Lauren Stauffer. "Overcoming A Lack of Central Authority Must Be Libya's First Step in the Fight Against ISIL". Human Security Centre. Retrieved 16 August 2015. 
  5. ^ a b "ISIS rocket attack kills 5 militiamen in Libya's Sirte". Daily Star. 25 March 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c "Libye : violents combats entre l'EI et des miliciens de Fajr Libya près de Syrte". L'Orient-Le Jour. Retrieved 16 August 2015. 
  7. ^ "Islamic State fighting in Libya's Sirte claims at least 19 lives". mcclatchydc. Retrieved 16 August 2015. 
  8. ^ RFI (13 February 2015). "Libye: le groupe EI prend le contrôle d'une radio locale à Syrte". RFI. Retrieved 22 March 2015. 
  9. ^ "L'Expression - Le Quotidien - Combats entre jihadistes de l'EI et miliciens à Syrte". Retrieved 22 March 2015. 
  10. ^ AFP (15 March 2015). "Libye - Libye : combats entre jihadistes de l'Ãtat islamique et miliciens à Syrte - Jeuneafrique.com - le premier site d'information et d'actualité sur l'Afrique". JEUNEAFRIQUE.COM. Retrieved 22 March 2015. 
  11. ^ Frédéric Powelton (18 March 2015). "Libye : un responsable tunisien de l'Etat islamique meurt dans des combats près de Syrte - Sahel Intelligence". Retrieved 22 March 2015. 
  12. ^ "Libye: 12 morts dans des combats entre jihadistes de l'EI et miliciens". Retrieved 22 March 2015. 
  13. ^ "ISIL arm in Libya seizes Sirte airport from Tripoli forces". Retrieved 16 August 2015. 
  14. ^ "IS Fight With Gaddafi Group Delays Release of 2 Remaining Indians". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 16 September 2015. 
  15. ^ a b c Andrew Tilghman, Size of ISIS force declining in Iraq and Syria, according to new intel, Military Times (February 4, 2016),
  16. ^ a b Declan Walsh, Ben Hubbard & Eric Schmitt, U.S. Bombing in Libya Reveals Limits of Strategy Against ISIS, New York Times (February 19, 2016).