Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries

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Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries
مجلس شورى ثوار بنغازي
Participant in the Second Libyan Civil War
Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries Logo.png
Active20 June 2014[1]present
IdeologyIslamism
Jihadism
LeadersMohamed al-Zahawi  [2]
Ismail Muhammad al-Salabi[3]
Mustafa al-Sharksi[4]
SizeAt least 4,500 (2014)[5][dead link]
Opponent(s)Libya Operation Dignity coalition
Battles and war(s)Second Libyan Civil War

The Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries (Arabic: مجلس شورى ثوار بنغازي‎, Majlis Shura Thuwar Benghazi) is a military coalition in Benghazi composed of Islamist and jihadist militias,[6] including Ansar al-Sharia, Libya Shield 1, and several other groups.[7]

Military situation in Libya on 25 March 2018.
  Under the control of the Tobruk-led Government and Libyan National Army
  Under the control of the Government of National Accord and Allies
  Under the control of the National Salvation Government/General National Congress
  Controlled by the Mujahedeen Councils of Derna, Benghazi and Adjabiya
  Controlled by local forces
  Controlled by Tuareg forces

(For a more detailed map, see military situation in the Libyan Civil War)

History[edit]

The force was initially formed in June 2014, in response both to the anti-Islamist Operation Dignity being led by Khalifa Haftar, and also the defeat of Islamist candidates in the 2014 Council of Deputies election. Afraid of being sidelined and defeated, several Islamist brigades united under a shared umbrella.[8] The consolidation and restructuring allowed the Islamist brigades to limit the success of Haftar's Operation Dignity, before allowing the Islamist groups to push back against the outnumbered forces allied to Haftar.[7]

On 14 July 2014, the council claimed it had taken over Barrack 319, which is one of the largest army barracks in eastern Libya. In late July, they took control of more than five other barracks in Benghazi, including the headquarters of the Al-Saiqa Special Forces unit. On 31 July 2014, the council claimed to have had taken over Benghazi.[9] However it lost control of much of the city to the Libyan National Army in the following months.[10]

Mohammed Salalbi, senior leader of Libya Martyrs' Brigade, stated that the remaining BRSC fighters had retreated from Benghazi and arrived in Derna on 29 December 2017, after misleading the LNA to make their way out.[11] Merhi al-Houti of LNA meanwhile denied that they had retreated, claiming that the army had blocked the road to areas controlled by them and had liberated the entire region from the "terrorist groups". He added that clashes had ended.[12]

Members[edit]

As of August 2014, the council was composed of the following groups, among others:[7]

Benghazi Defense Brigades[edit]

Formed in June 2016 to protect Bengazi and the Shura Council from the Libyan National Army, the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB) included various Libya Dawn militias and was organized under the banner of Saddiq Al-Ghariyani.[14][15] It pledged to support the Government of National Accord (GNA).[15] The GNA members are ambivalent about the BDB with some calling for it to be demarcated as a "terrorist organization".[16] It certaining has links with the jihadist militias,[16] and is apparently opposed to the Presidential Council of the GNA,[17] while at the same time working under Mahdi Al-Barghathi, the Defence Minister of the GNA.[18]

Primarily the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB) were involved with the defense of Benghazi against both ISIS and the Libyan National Army (LNA),[19][20] where they lost to the LNA.[21] They were also involved in the 2016 offensive against ISIL's stronghold in Sirte, and occupied Ben Jawad and Nufliya on behalf of the GNA, but they withdrew when the LNA advanced into those towns.[15][17] The BDB were apparently responsible for shooting down a French helicopter that the GNA said was violating Libyan sovereignty.[22][23] The French denied retaliating with airstrikes against the BDB.[24]

The BDB are headquartered at Al Jufra Air Base, along with other GNA forces,[25] and were attacked there by the LNA in December 2016.[18]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "Splits emerge between Libyan Islamists and jihadists". AFP. 18 August 2014. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  2. ^ a b "The Rise and Decline of Ansar al-Sharia in Libya". Hudson Institute. 6 April 2015. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
  3. ^ "Waging the Anti-ISIS Campaign in Bengazi: A Brief Profile of Salafist Commander Ismail Muhammad Al-Salabi". Jamestown Foundation. 2 June 2016. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  4. ^ https://www.reuters.com/article/us-libya-security-oil-idUSKBN16D19R
  5. ^ Maggie Michael & Hamza Hendawi (18 September 2012). "A Benghazi power, Libya militia eyed in attack". Associated Press. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
  6. ^ Lamloum, Imed (27 July 2014). "Libya airport battle 'has killed at least 97'". Daily Star. Tripoli. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  7. ^ a b c McGregor, Andrew (8 August 2014). "Libya's Ansar al-Shari'a Declares the Islamic Emirate of Benghazi". Terrorism Monitor. The Jamestown Foundation. 12 (16). Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  8. ^ "Libya Islamists declare control of Benghazi". Daily Star. 1 August 2014. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  9. ^ "Benghazi 'falls to al-Qaeda-linked rebels". Al Jazeera English. 31 July 2014. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  10. ^ "Libyan army says recaptures four barracks in Benghazi", The Star, Oct 31, 2014
  11. ^ "Last fighters standing in Benghazi leave for Derna after Haftar's forces control of Ekhribish". Libyan Express.
  12. ^ "Libya: Haftar Forces Deny Extremists Fled to Derna". Asharq al-Awsat.
  13. ^ "Operation Dignity takes control of Guwarsha gate as fighting goes into seventh day". Libya Herald. 22 October 2014. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  14. ^ "Libyan revolutionary factions form Defend Benghazi Brigades". The Libya Observer. 2 June 2016. Archived from the original on 3 June 2016.
  15. ^ a b c "Other Jihadi Actors". Eyes on ISIS in Libya. 6 June 2016. Archived from the original on 8 June 2016.
  16. ^ a b "Benghazi Defence Brigades is Causing More Fractions Among GNA and Eastern Militias". LibyaAnalysis. 22 June 2016. Archived from the original on 24 June 2016.
  17. ^ a b "LNA retake Ben Jawad and Nufliya". Libya Herald. 7 December 2016. Archived from the original on 8 December 2016.
  18. ^ a b "Haftar's warplanes strike Al-Jufra airbase, kill one, injure 14 GNA Defence Ministry forces". Libyan Express. 8 December 2016. Archived from the original on 8 December 2016.
  19. ^ "Benghazi Defense Brigades advance toward Benghazi". Libyan Express. 16 July 2016. Archived from the original on 18 July 2016.
  20. ^ "Army says Benghazi terrorists almost beaten". Libya Herald. 20 November 2016. Archived from the original on 22 November 2016.
  21. ^ "LNA reinforces in oil crescent against predicted attack by Barghathi force: report". Libya Herald. 3 November 2016. Archived from the original on 8 December 2016.
  22. ^ "Libya attack: French soldiers die in helicopter crash". BBC News. 20 July 2016.
  23. ^ "Benghazi Defense Brigades shoot down Dignity Operation helicopter". Libyan Express. 17 July 2016. Archived from the original on 26 October 2016.
  24. ^ Mathi, Moutaz; Fornaji, Hadi (20 July 2016). "France denies air strikes on Benghazi Defence Brigades as Gharani calls for protests against it". Libya Herald. Archived from the original on 8 December 2016.
  25. ^ "The Anti-ISIS Coalition". Eye on ISIS in Libya. 16 November 2016. Archived from the original on 8 December 2016.