Weekly Security Report by SNE 16 September 2014

Despite a major offensive being launched by the newly-reinforced troops loyal to General Khalifa Hifter’s Operation Dignity fighting in Benghazi has continued to be focused in the Benina area, suggesting that militias aligned to the Benghazi Shura Council, spearheaded by Ansar al Sharia, were able to resist the advancing forces throughout the weekend. Claims by Ansar al Sharia and its allies that they had taken control of Operation Dignity’s stronghold at Benina International Airport (BEN) were untrue but sources indicate that the Islamist forces have advanced towards the facility.

Meanwhile, Operation Dignity forces claimed responsibility for an air strike on a Libya Dawn ammunitions storage depot in Gharyan. A spokesperson for the Libya Dawn militia coalition stated that one person had been killed and five were injured as a result of the strike, but these claims cannot be independently verified. Once again, there has been speculation as to whether foreign powers may have been involved with the strikes.

Al Thinni recently repeated earlier threats that an offensive would be launched “to take out the armed formations in Tripoli within two weeks”. Meanwhile, clashes have continued to intensify to the south and west of the capital, with sources reporting that around seventy people have been killed by missile fire over the past two weeks. Warshefana military units have put up significant resistance, however, with sources claiming that the rocket fire has also continued in Zawiya and the western Tripoli suburb of Janzour.

At least 19 members of both Operation Dignity and Ansar Al-Sharia have been killed in more than 24 hours of fierce but sporadic fighting in Benghazi. Mohamed Al-Hejazi, the spokesman for Operation Dignity stated, it is reported that six members of Saiqa Special Forces, which is allied with the Dignity operation, had been killed in the clashes and 14 wounded. He claimed the bodies of at least 13 dead from Ansar Al-Sharia had been recovered since the fighting began.

The rate of assassinations in Benghazi appears to be sharply rising once more, as at least eleven were recorded through 12-15 September 2014. Seven soldiers, believed to be associated with the Saiqa Special Forces, were among the victims; five were killed by a single bullet to the head while two others were reportedly shot many times in different parts of their bodies. The latter two were both found in the area of Assulmani, near buildings close to the marsh. A member of the Libyan National Army, Abdul Monaim Ferjana, was also reportedly shot and killed in the area of al Thama during the evening of 14 September 2014.

Due to the current ongoing unstable situation within Tripoli, SNE advises that all non-essential expat client personnel and their dependants should consider relocating outside of the country where possible.

Only business essential movements should take place within Tripoli city limits and no movement should be attempted in dark hours or near the area of Tripoli International Airport and surroundings areas which are affected by the ongoing militia fighting.

SNE is advising NO travel should be made to Benghazi until the current situation shows signs of stability.

The British FCO and US State Department are still advising against No travel to Libya and have advised all their citizens to leave the country at the first opportunity available.

SNE remains operational on the ground in Tripoli with our British Country Management Team and are able to support any remaining clients as required, or provide up to date accurate information and analysis on the ever changing situation to those clients who are currently out of country monitoring the situation with an aim to redeploying when the security situation allows.

Before considering travel to Libya, an itinerary specific pre-travel risk assessment including mitigation measures are recommended. In-country personnel should be confident in their evacuation procedures and crisis management plans and in light of the current situation these should be checked and updated where necessary.

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