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At least 7 Libyan soldiers killed by Islamic State at checkpoint

Fifteen other soldiers from the armed forces of the internationally-recognized government in Tobruk are missing and it is not known what happened to do them. The town of Ajdabiya itself is run by a Shura Council of Islamists. Islamic State forces claim they are still in control of the checkpoint and that they captured ammunition and military equipment in their operation. Fighting is still reported in the surrounding area. One official claimed that fighting continued almost 100 kilometres outside of Ajdabiya. Further west of Ajdabiya in the city of Sirte, Islamic State has its largest and strongest presence. The surrounding area is under control of the Tripoli-based GNC government.

In the east, the Islamic State was driven out of the city of Derna, its earlier stronghold, by a competing umbrella group of radical jihadists. However, there seem to be still members of the Islamic State who hold part of the city of Benghazi along with other Islamists. The city is in ruins from continuous battles mounted by General Khalifa Haftar. His Operation Dignity launched in May of 2014 began in Benghazi. The operation is designed to rid Libya of Islamists, including the forces associated with the rival government in Tripoli. Islamists retook most of the city last year but Haftar has taken much of it back into Tobruk-government control.

India reported that five of its citizens were seized near Sirte but two had been released. They were abducted by suspected Islamic State militants. The four were on their way to Tunis to catch a flight home. One of the Indians released was an associate professor at the University of Sirte, a city which is controlled by the Islamic State.

A report from the Libya Observer claims that today clashes broke out between forces loyal to Haftar’s Operation Dignity and the Shura Council of Ajdabiya. The Council claimed that the Haftar forces launched an offensive on camps of the group last evening. This happened after the assault claimed by the Islamic State on a military checkpoint of the Libyan army. The Libyan army accused the Shura Council of launching the attack in spite of the Islamic State claim. There are now clashes in the industrial district of the town which killed at least six and wounded 12 others. Operation Dignity forces also bombed positions of the Shura Council in the city and has ordered reinforcements of its forces. The situation appears to be developing along the lines of Benghazi with Haftar’s forces facing not only a Shura Council of assorted Islamists but Islamic State fighters at the same time. The UN has demanded that clashes stop and Haftar has even been targeted with sanctions by the EU for not accepting a UN-brokered peace agreement. Neither has the Libya Dawn militia of the Tripoli government.

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