Military Wiki
Second Libyan Civil War
Part of the Arab Winter, and
the Libyan crisis (2011–present)
Libyan Civil War.png
Cities during the Civil War (as of 14 February 2015)
For a more detailed map, see this
Date16 May 2014 – present
(8 years, 3 months and 2 days)


  • Islamists are unable to block elections and suffer landslide electoral defeat
  • Islamists take Tripoli and establish a rival government
  • Elected government bases itself in Tobruk[15]
  • Ansar al-Sharia takes control of parts of Eastern Libya[16]
  • ISIL takes over the city of Derna[12] and later part of the Sabha countryside, the Al Maborok oil field, the radio station in Sirte and the town of Nofaliya[17]
  • Ceasefire agreed between Operation Dignity and Libya Dawn factions[18]
  • Egyptian military intervention against ISIL militants following the kidnapping and beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians.

Libya Libyan parliament

 Egypt[4][5]  United Arab Emirates[4] Supported by:

  •  Italy
    (Operazione Cyrene: logistic support and trainers on ground)[6]
  • United States (Surveillance flights)[7]

Libya New General National Congress

Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries[10][11]

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [12]
Commanders and leaders
Libya Aguila Saleh Issa
(President of House of Representatives)
Libya Abdullah al-Thani
(Prime Minister) [20]
Lt Gen. Khalifa Haftar
(Commander of Operation Dignity)
Col. Wanis Abu Khamada
(Commander of Libya's Special Forces)
Brig. Gen. Saqr Geroushi
(Commander of the Libyan Air Force)
Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (President of Egypt)
United Arab Emirates Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan (President of the United Arab Emirates)
Libya Nouri Abusahmain
(President of the new GNC)
Libya Omar al-Hasi
(Prime Minister, not internationally recognized)[21]
Libya Sadiq Al-Ghariani
(Grand Mufti)
Mohammed Hadia
(Operation Libya Dawn Commander)[22]
File:Flag of the Joint Operations Room of Libya’s Revolutionaries.svg Shaaban Hadia
(LROR Commander)
File:Flag of the Joint Operations Room of Libya’s Revolutionaries.svg Adel Gharyani
(LROR Commander)

Mohamed al-Zahawi [23]
(Ansar al-Sharia Leader)
Wissam Ben Hamid
(Libya Shield 1 Commander)

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
Mohammed Abdullah[12]
Abu Nabil Al Iraqi (IS commander of North Africa)

Ali Al Qarqaa (Emir of Nofaliya)[17]
Casualties and losses
3,095 killed[24]

The Second Libyan Civil War is an ongoing conflict between Islamist forces (also called the "New General National Congress"), and forces aligned with General Khalifa Haftar and the elected parliament or "Council of Deputies", based in the eastern port city of Tobruk. As of February 2015, damage and disorder from the war has been considerable.[25] There are frequent electricity outages, little business activity, a loss in revenues from oil by 90%. About 3000 people have died from the fighting, and "nearly a third" of the country’s population has fled to Tunisia as refugees.[25]

At the beginning of 2014, Libya was governed by the General National Congress (GNC) after the election of 2012. Since then, Islamist parties had controlled the assembly, outmaneuvering the majority centrists and liberals, and electing Nouri Abusahmain as president of the GNC in June 2013.[26][27] According to some, Abusahmain abused his powers to suppress debates and inquiries.[28] The GNC voted to enforce a variant of sharia law in December 2013[29] and failed to stand down at the end of its electoral mandate in January 2014. On 14 February 2014, General Khalifa Haftar, a general who served under the former regime of Muammar Gaddafi, ordered the GNC to dissolve and called for the formation of a caretaker government committee to oversee new elections. The GNC ignored his demands as Haftar was a millitary general who legally had no political authority to make such demands.[30]

The conflict began two months later, on 16 May 2014, when forces loyal to General Haftar launched a large scale air and ground offensive codenamed Operation Dignity (Arabic language: عملية الكرامة‎; 'Amaliya al-Karamah) against Islamist armed groups in Benghazi. Two days later, Haftar's forces tried to dissolve the General National Congress (GNC) in Tripoli. Haftar called for new elections and the Council of Deputies was appointed to replace the GNC. In these elections, Islamists suffered an overwhelming electoral defeat. Turnout was very low at 18%,[31] and there were allegations of election fraud.[32] Legitimacy for the Islamist faction now largely relies on the rejection of the election results.[33][34][35]

The conflict escalated on 13 July when Islamists, known as the group of Libya Dawn, launched Operation Libya Dawn to seize Tripoli International Airport, capturing it from a militia forty-one days later. Shortly thereafter members of the General National Congress who had rejected the June election reconvened and voted themselves as replacement of the newly elected Council of Deputies, with Tripoli as their political capital, Nouri Abusahmain president and Omar al-Hasi prime minister. In October 2014, Derna was taken over by ISIL militants who had emerged amid the chaos as a third force, adding further complexity to the conflict.[36]

On 6 November, the supreme court in Tripoli, dominated by Islamists and members of the new GNC, declared the Council of Deputies dissolved.[37][38][39] The Council of Deputies rejected this ruling as made "under threat".[40]

On 16 January 2015, a ceasefire was agreed between Operation Dignity and Libya Dawn factions.[18] The country is now led by two separate governments, with the country's three main cities, Tripoli, Benghazi and Misrata controlled by forces loyal Libya Dawn and the new GNC in Tripoli, while the international community has recognized Haftar's government and their parliament in Tobruk.[41]

On 15 February, ISIS in Libya, released a video showing the beheading 21 egyptian copts.[42] Egyptian authorities who had previously interfered in the conflict and carried out airstrikes against the GNC millitias,[43] responded to the ISIS video by carrying out a string of airstrikes targeting ISIS.[44] On 17 Februrary GNC millitia deployed a batallion to tackle ISIS in Sirte.[41]

Background of discontent with General National Congress

At the beginning of 2014, Libya was governed by the General National Congress (GNC). The GNC was the subject of considerable discontent for among other things: allegedly being dominated by Islamists despite their lack of a majority; suppressing inconvenient debates and inquiries by removing them from the congressional agenda;[28] voting to declare sharia law and establishing "a special committee" to "review all existing laws to guarantee they comply with Islamic law";[29] imposing gender segregation and compulsory hijab at Libyan universities; channeling government funding towards some Islamist armed groups and allowing others to conduct assassinations and kidnappings;[28] and refusing to hold new elections when its electoral mandate expired in January 2014.[45]

Alleged GNC relationship with Islamist armed groups

The GNC was perceived to be channeling government funding towards some Islamist armed groups and allowing others to operate with impunity. It was alleged that funding was particularly channeled towards the LROR, which Nouri Abusahmain set up himself.

The GNC was believed by its opponents to be allowing Islamist groups to conduct assassinations, especially in Benghazi, and kidnappings. Prominent Islamist incidents in 2013-14 included the kidnapping of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan in October 2013, and the kidnapping of Egyptian diplomats in January 2014. Both incidents were carried out by the Libya Revolutionaries Operations Room.

In October 2013, following the kidnapping of the prime minister, Abusahmain used his presidency to change the agenda of the GNC in order to prevent a debate over disestablishing the LROR. At the same time, he cancelled a request to establish a committee to investigate the allocation, by Abusahmain himself, of 900 million Libyan Dinars (US $720 million) to the LROR and various other Islamist armed groups.[28] Instead, the LROR had its responsibilities reduced by the GNC but was allowed to continue to operate and no-one was prosecuted for the incident.

Nouri Abusahmain has been perceived by some as linked to the Muslim Brotherhood in particular, which he denies.[46]

The kidnapping of Zeidan was believed to be a coup attempt supported by members of the GNC, who was viewed as too moderate (see: 2013 Libyan coup d'état attempt).

In Benghazi, the GNC was perceived to be turning a blind eye to the expansion of armed Islamist groups, notably Ansar al-Sharia, the group linked to the assassination of the US ambassador to Libya in September 2012.

In April 2014, an anti-terrorist training base called "Camp 27", located between Tripoli and the Tunisian border, was taken over by forces fighting under the control of Abd al-Muhsin Al-Libi, also known as Ibrahim Tantoush,[47] a long-serving Al-Qaeda organizer and former member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.[48] The Islamist forces at Camp 27 were subsequently been described as part of the Libya Shield Force.[49] The Libya Shield Force was already identified by some observers as linked to al-Qaeda as early as 2012.[50][51]

Alleged suppression of women's rights

GNC opponents argue that it was supporting Islamist actions against women. Sadiq Ghariani, the Grand Mufti of Libya, is perceived to be linked closely to Islamist parties. He has issued fatwas ordering Muslims to obey the GNC,[52] and fatwas ordering Muslims to fight against Haftar's forces[53] He has also issued fatwas restricting women's rights.[54][55]

In March 2013, Sadiq Ghariani, the Grand Mufti, issued a fatwa against the UN Report on Violence Against Women and Girls. He condemned the UN report for "advocating immorality and indecency in addition to rebelliousness against religion and clear objections to the laws contained in the Quran and Sunnah".[55][56] Later in 2013, lawyer Hamida Al-Hadi Al-Asfar was abducted, tortured and killed. It is alleged she was targeted for criticising the Grand Mufti's declaration.[57] No arrests were made.

In June 2013, two politicians, Ali Tekbali and Fathi Sager, appeared in court for "insulting Islam" for publishing a cartoon promoting women's rights.[58] Under sharia law they were facing a possible death penalty. The case caused widespread concern although they were eventually acquitted in March 2014. After the GNC was forced to accept new elections, Ali Tekbali was elected to the new House of Representatives.

Protesters stage a large demonstration in Shahat against the GNC's mandate extension plan.[45]

During Nouri Abusahmain's presidency of the GNC, gender segregation and compulsory hijab were being imposed in Libyan universities from early 2014, provoking strong criticism from Women's Rights groups. This was subsequent to the December 2013 GNC decision to enforce sharia law in Libya.

Minority Islamist domination

Although Islamists were outnumbered by Liberals and Centrists in the GNC, in May 2014 they lobbied for a law "banning virtually everyone who had participated in Qaddafi’s government from holding public office". "Armed militiamen" stormed government ministries to demand the law’s passage. The law allowed Islamists to take power, removing from power several of their "key rivals", mostly political moderates and technocrats who "had served at the end of Qaddafi’s reign". Several months later in December, the GNC endorsed Sharia law and voted to extend its mandate.[25]

In May, they urged the G.N.C. to pass a law banning virtually everyone who had participated in Qaddafi’s government from holding public office. During the vote, armed militiamen stormed government ministries to demand the law’s passage. The immediate effect was to neutralize several of the Islamists’ key rivals, mostly political moderates and technocrats who had served at the end of Qaddafi’s reign.

GNC extends its mandate without elections

The GNC failed to stand down at the end of its electoral mandate in January 2014, unilaterally voting on 23 December 2013 to extend its power for at least one year. This caused widespread unease and some protests. Residents of the eastern city of Shahat, along with protesters from Bayda and Sousse, staged a large demonstration, rejecting the GNC's extension plan and demanding the resignation of the congress followed by a peaceful power transition to a legitimate body. They also protested the lack of security, blaming the GNC for failing to build the army and police.[45] Other Libyans rejecting the proposed mandate rallied in Tripoli's Martyrs Square and outside Benghazi's Tibesti Hotel, calling for the freeze of political parties and the re-activation of the country's security system.[59]

On 14 February 2014, General Khalifa Haftar ordered the GNC to dissolve and called for the formation of a caretaker government committee to oversee new elections. However his actions had little effect on the GNC, which called his actions "an attempted coup" and called Haftar himself "ridiculous" and labelled him an aspiring dictator. The GNC continued to operate as before. No arrests were made. Haftar launched Operation Dignity two months later, on 16 May.

Opposing forces

Taking sides

General Khalifa Haftar who launched the anti-Islamist operation on May 16, 2014.

On 19 May 2014, a number of Libyan military officers announced their support for Gen. Haftar, including officers in an air force base in Tobruk, and others who have occupied a significant portion of the country's oil infrastructure, as well as members of an important militia group in Benghazi. On the other hand, several fighters from Misrata moved to Tripoli to counter Haftar's offensive, but this happened after the general managed to gather allies from Bayda, 125 miles east of Benghazi.[60]

Additional supporters of the movement include Libya's former Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, ousted by General National Congress (GNC) Islamist parties, and Libya's ambassador to the United Nations who had announced his backing of Haftar's offensive against Islamist lawmakers and extremist militias, just hours after the country's air force commander had made a similar move, further building support for a campaign. The current Prime Minister has described Operation Dignity as a coup d'état.[1][61] The commander of the army's special forces also said he had allied with Haftar.[2] However, the show of support for the general appears to have triggered a heavy backlash, as Libya's navy chief Brig. Gen. Hassan Abu-Shanaq, who also announced his support for Haftar's revolt, was wounded in an assassination attempt in the capital Tripoli along with his driver and a guard. On May 20, the air forces headquarters in Tripoli came under a rocket attack but no casualties were reported.[1][62]

On 21 May, the uprising was described by the Washington Post as the most serious challenge to the Libyan authorities since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.[60]

The Islamist forces have attempted to secure some support by focusing on a tribal themes, that the elected government is not adequately opposed to the idea of military units led by Zintanis.[63] As a Berber/Amazigh, Nouri Abusahmain's prominence has also secured the Islamists some Berber/Amazigh support. One un-named pro-Dawn Amazigh commander has apparently claimed “The majority of Dawn are not Islamist..." and “We all have different reasons for wanting less Zintani influence in western Libya.”[63]

Islamist forces

The Islamist "Libyan Dawn" has been described as "an uneasy coalition" including "former Al Qaeda jihadists" who fought against Qaddafi in the nineties, Berber ethnic militias, members of Libya’s branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, and a "network of conservative merchants" from Misrata, whose fighters make up "the largest block of Libya Dawn’s forces".[64] The Islamist forces are identified as "terrorists" by the elected parliament in Tobruk.[65]

They may include a faction of the Libyan National Army, which does not include air or naval forces. Most of the Libya Shield Force supports the Islamists. Its forces are divided geographically into the Western Shield, Central Shield and Eastern Shield. Elements of the Libya Shield Force were identified by some observers as linked to Al-Qaeda as early as 2012.[50][51] The term "Libya Shield 1" is used to refer to the Islamist part of the Libya Shield Force in the east of Libya.[66]

In Eastern Libya, Islamist armed groups have organized themselves into the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries. These are:

In western Libya, the prominent Islamist forces are the Central Shield (of the Libya Shield Force), which consists especially of Misrata units, and the Libya Revolutionaries Operations Room. Two smaller organizations operating in western Libya are Ignewa Al-Kikly and the "Lions of Monotheism".

Al-Qaeda leader Abd al-Muhsin Al-Libi, also known as Ibrahim Ali Abu Bakr or Ibrahim Tantoush[48] has been active in western Libya, capturing the special forces base called Camp 27 in April 2014 and losing it to anti-Islamist forces in August 2014.[47] The Islamist forces around Camp 27 have been described as both Al-Qaida[47] and as part of the Libya Shield Force.[49] The relationship between Al-Qaeda and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is unclear, and their relationship with other Libyan Islamist groups is unclear. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb are also active in Fezzan, especially in border areas.

The Zawiadisambiguation needed tribe has been allied to Libya Dawn since August 2014[67] although in June 2014 at least one Zawia army unit had appeared to side with General Haftar, and reports in December claimed Zawia forces were openly considering breaking away from Libya Dawn.[68] Zawia militia have been heavily fighting the Warshefana tribe. In the current conflict, the Warshefana have been strongly identified with the forces fighting against both Libya Dawn and Al Qaeda. Zawia has been involved in a long-standing tribal conflict with the neighbouring Warshefana tribe since 2011.[69]

Anti-Islamist forces

The anti-Islamist forces are built around Haftar's faction of the Libyan National Army, including land, sea and air forces.

Since the Battle of Tripoli Airport, armed groups associated with Zintan and the surrounding Nafusa region have become prominent. The Airport Security Battalion is recruited in large part from Zintan.

The "Zintan Brigades" fall under the leadership of the Zintan Revolutionaries' Military Council. They consist of:

  • The Qaaqaa Brigade
  • The Lightning Bolt (Sawaiq) Brigade
  • The Civic Brigade (لواء المدني)

The Airport Security Battalion at Tripoli Airport was linked to the Zintan Brigades.

Warshefana tribal militia, from the area immediately south and west of Tripoli, have been playing a growing role in the anti-Islamist forces. On 5 August they were reported to have recaptured Camp 27, a training base west of Tripoli. The special base had been set up in 2012 with US funding, but had been captured by forces under Al-Qaeda organizer Ibrahim Ali Abu Bakr Tantoush in April 2014. Warshefana militia have also been involved in a long-standing tribal conflict with the neighbouring Zawia tribe since 2011.[69] Zawia has been allied to Libya Dawn since August 2014[67] although its commitment to Libya Dawn is reportedly wavering.[68]

A minority portion of the Libya Shield Force is reported to have not joined the Islamist forces. It is not clear if this means they have joined the anti-Islamist forces. Although journalists have referred to this group as "Libya Shield 2"[70] to distinguish it from the Islamist faction which calls itself Libya Shield 1, it is not clear that this name is commonly used.

A pro-Gaddafi media outlet, the Jamahiriya News Agency, claims that a group called "the Forces of the Military Council of Libyan Tribes and Cities" (قوات المجلس العسكرى للقبائل والمدن الليبية) is involved in fighting against the Islamists.[citation needed]


16–17 May 2014: Operation Dignity offensive in Benghazi


Hostilities first broke out early in the morning of Friday 16 May 2014 when Gen. Haftar's forces assaulted the bases of certain Benghazi Islamist militia groups, including the one blamed for the 2012 assassination of US ambassador Christopher Stevens. Helicopters, jets and ground forces took part in the assault, killing at least 70, and injuring at least 250. Haftar has vowed to not stop until the extremists groups are purged.[71][72] Shortly before the assault Haftar reportedly asked a close friend, "Am I committing suicide?"[73]

The operation, codenamed "Operation Dignity" by Haftar, began when forces loyal to General Haftar attacked units of the February 17th Martyrs Brigade, the Libya Shield No. 1 Brigade (also known as Deraa No. 1 Brigade), and Ansar al-Sharia. Fighting was largely confined to the south western Benghazi districts of Hawari and Sidi Ferej. In particular the fighting focused on the area between the south-western gate checkpoint and the cement factory; an area controlled by Ansar al-Sharia. As part of the fighting helicopters were seen over Hawari. Fighting was also reported in the port area between marines and the Libya Shield No. 1 (Deraa No. 1) Brigade.[74]

Haftar's forces seemingly moved on Benghazi from the east, with some units originating from Marj. Included within these forces were various tribal units. Elements of the Libyan military in Benghazi then seemingly joined them. There were also unconfirmed reports of forces loyal to Ibrahim Jadhran’s Cyrenaica federalist forces fighting alongside units loyal to Haftar.[74]

Although the Libyan Air Force and marines have close links with the Saiqa Special Forces Brigade, neither the Brigade, nor the Benghazi Joint Security Room (BJSR), were seemingly involved. The BJSR former spokesperson, Colonel Mohammad Hejazi, spoke of Libyan military forces fighting "terrorist formations" in the Benghazi districts of Sidi Ferej and Hawari. Hejazi also claimed that Libyan "army forces" were now in control of a camp at Rafallah Al-Sahati. Libya Herald also claimed that an eyewitness had claimed to have seen tanks belonging to the Saiqa Brigade stationed on the road in front of its camp at Buatni. The Brigade called for Benghazi residents to avoid districts witnessing the clashes.[74]

As a result of the fighting the streets of Benghazi were largely empty and roads into Benghazi were effectively closed.[74] The fighting also resulted in the closure of Benina International Airport, near Benghazi.[75]

The following day, fighters from Rafallah al-Sahati and the 17 February Brigade also returned to their bases, from which they had been driven off the previous day.[76]

Haftar's subsequent press release

On 17 May, Haftar held a press conference in which he proclaimed that the current GNC was no longer representing the Libyan people and was illegitimate. He claimed to have uncovered evidence that the GNC had opened Libya's borders to avowed terrorists and had invited numerous international Islamist fighters to come to Libya, offering them Libyan passports. He explained that his primary aim was to "purge" Islamist militants from Libya, specifically the "terrorist" Muslim Brotherhood.[77]

Government reaction

At a government press conference held as a response to the Benghazi assault, acting Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thinni condemned the move by Haftar as illegal and claimed that the move undermined attempts to confront terrorism. Thinni had called Ansar al-Sharia a terrorist organisation earlier in May 2014.[74]

Thinni claimed that only 1 Libyan Air Force plane had taken part in the clashes, alongside 120 army vehicles, although eyewitnesses reported to CNN as having seen multiple aircraft involved in the assault.[78]

Major General Abdulsalam Jad Allah Al-Salheen Al-Obaidi, the Chief of Staff of the Libyan National Army, also condemned the attack by Haftar, and called forces loyal to him "intruders into Benghazi". Instead Obaidi urged "revolutionaries" in Benghazi to resist them.[74]

The next day, Libya's army responded to Haftar's airstrikes by proclaiming a no-fly zone over Benghazi banning all flights over the city in a direct challenge to Haftar in order to prevent the paramilitary force from using air power against Islamist militias in the region.[79][80][81]


By the end of the first day Haftar's LNA had seemingly suffered 4 dead and 24 wounded. LNA dead and wounded were taken to a hospital in Marj. The number of dead and wounded from the Islamist groups was made difficult due to Ansar al-Sharia's policy of not releasing casualty reports. The 17th February Brigade similarly released no figures.[74] Overall, the resulting battle claimed between 70 and 75 lives.[71]

18 May: Operation Dignity offensive in Tripoli

Gen. Haftar’s militia allies backed by truck-mounted anti-aircraft guns, mortars and rocket fire attacked parliament, sending lawmakers fleeing for their lives as gunmen ransacked the legislature, declaring the body suspended. A commander in the military police in Libya read a statement announcing the body's suspension on behalf of a group led by Haftar.[82]

The clashes began on the evening of Sunday 18 May, beginning first at the GNC building, before then spreading to Hay Al-Akwakh, particularly in the area of the steel bridge on the Airport road. Missiles were also reported to have fallen close to the TV station on Ennasr Street. Heavy firing was also heard in the Corniche area on the way to Mitiga airbase. The clashes however died down by the late evening.[83]

Later on Sunday evening a group of 5 officers, who identified themselves as the Leaders of the Libyan Army, announced the suspension of the General National Congress. The officers, under the lead of the Zintani former head of Military Intelligence, Col. Muktar Fernana, instead announced that the Constitutional Committee would carry out the work of the GNC. Under the plan al-Thinni's government was to remain in office, and would oversee the formation of military and security forces. The statement therefore blocked Ahmed Maiteeq from assuming the position of Prime Minister. Col. Fernana also proclaimed that the Libyan people "would never accept to be controlled by a group or organization which initiates terror and chaos".[84] Col. Fernana claimed that Gen. Haftar had assigned a 60 member assembly to take over from the GNC, with the current government acting only on an emergency basis.[85]

19–20 May 2014: Military commanders endorse Operation Dignity movement, some militias oppose it

On Monday 19 May Col. Wanis Abu Khamada, the commander of Libya's Special Forces, announced that his forces would be joining Haftar's operation against Islamist militant groups in Benghazi. Khamadas Special Forces had previously come under attack from Islamist militants in Benghazi, with dozens of members of the unit being killed. In his declaration Khamada announced that his unit would join Haftar's Libyan National Army "with all our men and weapons".[86] Khamada argued that the operation was "the work of the people".[87] By Monday the death toll for Friday's clashes had reached 79.[86] However, the Tripoli-based Al-Qaeda-inspired Lions of Monotheism group announced that it would fight forces loyal to Gen. Haftar.[88]

Forty members of parliament,[89] and the heads of the navy,[90] the air-force,[91] and much of the army have endorsed Haftar. On the evening of 21 May the National Forces Alliance issued a statement of support of Haftar, proclaiming that Libyans have found themselves "drowning in swamp of terrorism, darkness, killing and destruction". The following day the official Libyan news agency claimed that the Interior Ministry had announced its support for Haftar's operation, in direct contrast to the governments denunciation of the operation as a coup.[92]

The Libyan Revolutionaries Operations Room issued a call for serving military personnel to desert, claiming that they did not need the support of Haftar. The group called on its forces to temporarily withdraw from the Army, and to disclose to their commanders the names of anyone involved in attempting to kill either officials or members of the security forces. it would seek the prosecution of named individuals through the Attorney General’s office. In their announcement LROR claimed that they would lead the fight against criminals in Libya, and would carry on without Haftar or his operation.[93]

In a televised statement late Wednesday Haftar appeared in a military uniform surrounded by military officers and accused the current Islamist-led parliament of turning Libya to a state "sponsoring terrorism" and a "hideout to terrorists" who infiltrated the joints of the state, wasted its resources and controlled its decision making. He asserted that the military wants the continuation of political life and stressed that the new council is a civilian one in an apparent attempt to defuse fears of militarizing the state.[94]

Tripoli residents reported several loud explosions earlier that day near the al-Yarmouk air defense barracks. This came after the air defense top commander Juma al-Abani released a video message saying he was joining Haftar's campaign against Islamists. Heavy fighting involving anti-aircraft machine guns mounted on trucks also broke out overnight near an army camp in Tajoura, an eastern suburb. The city was quiet by dawn. The health ministry reported that at least two people from Mali died in the fighting.[95]

Ansar al-Sharia issued a statement denouncing Haftar's operation as a "war against the religious Muslim youth". The group instead claimed that they had been the subject of a hate campaign by those against Islam and Sharia, and that their opponents were the real terrorists. The group instead claimed that they wished to safeguard Muslim blood and had not hindered the building of Libya's security organisations. The group claimed that the campaign against them was being conducted by "evil television channels" and were led by "ex-regime sympathisers and secularists supported by their masters in the west". The group also asked tribes to prevent their sons from joining Haftars forces.[96]

22–31 May 2014: Weekly pro-Haftar demonstrations, political and military developments

On both 23 May and 30 May after Friday prayers, tens of thousands of demonstrators rallied in various cities including Tripoli and Benghazi in support of Gen. Haftar and his campaign against Islamist militias and also in support of Haftar's calls to suspend parliament. In Benghazi, thousands of pro-Haftar demonstrators gathered outside Tibesti Hotel and in the city's Tahreer Square, as well as others in the city of Bayda further east. "No to militias, Libya will not become another Afghanistan" and "Yes to the army, yes to the police", their banners read. Meanwhile, crowds in Tripoli's Martyr's Square chanted against the parliament and in support of a national army and police force to replace the militias that run rampant in the country. They sang the national anthem as they waved the flag and carried banners that read "Yes to Dignity". They called for an official response to the militias. "Libya is in trouble, we want police, we want army", they chanted. While some Libyans don't back Haftar and don't want military rule, they support what he is doing.[97][98][99] The protest, dubbed the "Friday of Dignity", took its name from the offensive launched by Haftar, one week ago in the eastern city of Benghazi. The demonstrations were some of the largest the country has seen since the uprising three years ago and were the first since then to be held simultaneously in cities across Libya, which put more pressure on the embattled Islamist-led parliament to offer concessions. The interim government issued a statement in support of Friday’s protests and reasserted its proposal this week to suspend parliament. "The participation of tens of thousands [in the protests] requires all to answer to the demands of the people who represent legitimacy that can't be ignored", the statement said.[99]

In opposition to Haftar, Islamist militias from Misrata, known collectively as the Libyan Central Shield, have deployed in the capital amid a standoff with forces loyal to Haftar.[100] They are under the command of the country's chief of staff who answers to the GNC.[101] This followed calls by the head of the now boycotted GNC and the army chief on the Islamist militias to defend the interests of the Islamist backed position of the GNC.[100][102][103]

Meanwhile, within the Libyan government itself, an intense power struggle has emerged between Maiteeq and Thinni for leadership of the Libyan government, including conflicting orders and statements.[104] On May 28, Operation Dignity forces carried out airstrikes on the February 17th Martyrs Brigade, one of the biggest and best-trained Islamist militias in eastern Libya. The Islamists allegedly responded with anti-aircraft fire.[105][106]

June 2014

On 2 June, fighting re-erupts in Benghazi when Ansar al-Sharia militants attacked Haftar's forces, the latter responding with combat helicopter strikes in the west of the city. At least 22 people were killed and 70 wounded, with both sides accusing one another of indiscriminate firing on residential areas. It started the previous day, when aircraft pounded one of the militants' compounds in region. The education ministry closed schools and postponed exams until the violence is quelled and hospitals called for blood donations. Residents in south Benghazi set up checkpoints to avoid being taken by cross-fire in case rival fighters decided to take shelter in their homes. There was also fighting in the eastern town of Al-Marj where dozens were wounded.[107][108][109]

The next day, Libya's new prime minister Ahmed Maiteeq took office following his previous election by Libya's Islamist-dominated parliament in a contested vote. This was during a power struggle between him and outgoing PM Abdullah al-Thani. Maiteeq was surrounded by an Islamist militia, the Libyan Central Shield, who escorted him to the cabinet building to assume his new post and hold his first cabinet meeting after Al-Thani ordered his forces guarding the building to stand down in order to avoid bloodshed. Al-Thani called on the General National Congress to wait until the country's Supreme Constitutional Court decides whether the Maiteeq's election is legal or not, while Islamist lawmakers who back the new prime minister blamed Al-Thani for Benghazi's violence and accused him of failing to restore security and of preventing the transition of power in favor of Maiteeq.[108]

On 4 June, four people were killed and several others were wounded, among them was air division chief Gen. Saghr al-Jerushi, in an assassination attempt on Gen. Haftar in his home in the town of Abyar east of Benghazi. Haftar himself survived the attack which took place when a vehicle exploded in a farmhouse where the general held his meetings. His spokesman accused Islamist militias of being behind the attempt.[110][111] The same day, Michael Greub, a 42-year old Swiss national who was head of the International Committee of the Red Cross sub-delegation in Misrata, was killed in the city of Sirte when his vehicle was ambushed by masked gunmen right after he left a meeting with two other colleagues. The attackers opened fire on the car, killing him, while his driver and escort managed to escape unharmed. Yves Daccord, the ICRC's director-general condemned the attack and said that the organization was "devastated and outraged".[112]

The Supreme Constitutional Court of Libya said on June 5 that Ahmed Maiteeq's election was illegal. "The election of Ahmed Maitiq took place without a majority of votes and his appointment was unconstitutional," the court stated. Al Arabiya reported that Abdullah al-Thani and his interim government left the capital for Bayda after being threatened by militia groups that support Maiteeq.[113] The following day, Libya's intelligence chief Salem al-Hassi submitted his resignation, expressing disapproval over the parliament's insistence on appointing Maiteeq in contested circumstances.[114] Tarek Mitri, head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, announced an initiative for dialogue bringing together the country's political forces, expressing concern over the violence in Benghazi.[115] On the same day, Haftar's forces launched air raids on Islamist bases in Benghazi's Sidi Faraj and al-Qawarsheh and destroyed an ammunition warehouse in Derna.[116]

On 9 June, the Supreme Constitutional Court gave its final ruling on Maiteeq's contested vote, declaring that it was unconstitutional and invalid without citing a legal basis for the decision. The GNC accepted the ruling via a statement by the parliament's second deputy speaker. Maiteeq stepped down shortly after, saying that he would be "the first" to comply with the judiciary's ruling. "Abdullah al-Thani is the caretaker prime minister until congress learns the court's reasons for deciding Maiteeq's election was unconstitutional," he said.[117] The next day, Haftar announced that he had agreed to a ceasefire deal brokered by the Crisis Committee appointed by the government which also includes dialogue with other warring parties. The deal was attempted to allow Libyans to vote during GNC elections that were to be held on June 25 after parliament agreed to dissolve itself following a ruling by the country's elections commission.[118][119][120] Meanwhile, Ansar al-Sharia denied reports that it would hold talks with Haftar. "We have not reached agreement with the Crisis Committee, and we did not even agree to negotiate with this dictator [Haftar]," the group said in a statement. This came after the body of one of Ansar al-Sharia's leaders, Al-Mahdi Saad Abu al-Abyad, was found south of Derna. However, the militia group added that it would welcome any talks with tribal leaders instead.[119] On June 11, a suicide car bomber targeted a checkpoint manned by fighters loyal to Gen. Haftar in Benghazi.[121] The lorry exploded upon arriving at the post, killing the perpetrator and injuring five soldiers, one losing his leg.[122]

On 15 June, Haftar's forces launched a new assault on a number of jihadist camps in western Benghazi. The offensive consisted of tanks and rocket launchers and explosions were heard throughout the city. The general's spokesman said that the forces managed to capture several senior Islamists, among them were five militant leaders. An electricity plant near the city's airport was hit by rockets, causing power outages. The number of casualties was unclear but hospital sources indicated that 12 people were killed during the clashes, among them five soldiers and three civilians.[123][124]

On 17 June, American special forces and FBI personnel captured Ahmed Abu Khattala, whom they suspect to have a connection with the 2012 attack in Benghazi that killed US ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other American nationals. President Barack Obama said that Abu Khattalah will face "the full weight of the American justice system".[125]

On 22 June, Gen. Haftar gave a 48-hour ultimatum for Turkish and Qatari nationals to leave eastern Libya, accusing both countries of supporting terrorism in the country.[126]

Libya Body Count claimed June saw 43 people killed in fighting.[24]

July 2014: Operation Dawn and fall of Benghazi to Anti-Haftar forces

Islamist extremists are reported to have killed some 270 lawyers, judges, activists, military officers, and policemen—activists in civil society—in the course of taking over Benghazi in the summer of 2014.[127]

On 13 July, the mainly Islamist Libya Revolutionaries Operations Room (LROR), later joined by militias from Misrata and Tripoli, launched an offensive codenamed "Operation Dawn" on Tripoli International Airport,[128] thus beginning the Battle of Tripoli Airport. The following day, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya evacuated its staff after 13 people were killed in clashes in Tripoli and Benghazi. The fighting, between government forces and rival militia groups, also forced Tripoli's airport to close. A militia, including members of the LROR, tried to seize control of the airport from the Qaaqaa & Sawaiq Brigades[129] of the Zintani militia, which has controlled it since Gaddafi was toppled. Both the attacking and defending militias are believed to be on the official payroll.[130][131] In addition Misrata Airport was closed, due to its dependence on Tripoli International Airport for its operations. Government spokesman, Ahmed Lamine, stated that approximately 90% of the planes stationed at Tripoli International Airport were destroyed or made inoperable in the attack, and that the government may make an appeal for international forces to assist in reestablishing security.[131][132] A week of prolonged fighting between rival militias in Tripoli airport resulted in at least 47 deaths: the battle involved use of artillery and Grad rockets.[133]

On 26 July, the United States evacuated its embassy in Tripoli, moving all State Department employees to Tunisia.[134]

On 27 July, (last day of the fasting month of Ramadan in Libya) an oil depot near Tripoli International Airport was hit by rocket fire, igniting a large blaze. The oil depot has a capacity of 6 million liters, and nearby liquid gas storage facilities were at risk of being ignited by the blaze. Libyan TV stations urged residents to evacuate the area.[135] By 28 July (Eid al-Fitr day in Libya), firefighters had withdrawn from the site due to fighting in the area, though the fire was not yet under control.[136]

On 29 July, Islamist groups including Ansar al-Sharia seized a military base in Benghazi that served as the headquarters of the Saiqa Special Forces Brigade; a unit that supports General Khalifa Haftar.[137] Saiqa Special Forces officer Fadel Al-Hassi claimed that Saiqa abandoned the base, which included both Camp 36 in the Bu Attni district as well as the special forces school, after coming under heavy shelling. The battle for the base involved the use of rockets and warplanes, and resulted in the deaths of at least 30 people. During the fighting a pro-Haftar MiG crashed into waste ground in Kuwaifiya, although the pilot however managed to eject. Operation Dignity Spokesperson Mohamed Hejazi claimed that the aircraft had suffered a technical malfunction, and insisted it had not been shot down.[138] Following the fall of the base, video footage emerged of Mohamed al-Zahawi, the head of Ansar al-Sharia, as well as Wissam Ben Hamid, the leader of Libya Shield 1, standing outside the base.[139] Saiqa initially denied the loss of the base, although Saiqa Commander Wani Bukhamada acknowledged the loss by the afternoon of the 29th.[140] A senior Saiqa official later claimed to the Libya Herald that Saiqa losses in Benghazi between the 21 and 30 July totaled some 63 dead and 200 wounded. Whilst the official was unsure of the number of Islamist dead, he claimed that it was in the dozens. The fighting, having involved indiscriminate shelling and bombing in and around the predominately residential area of Buatni, also resulted in dozens of civilians being killed in crossfire.[141]

Mustafa A.G. Abushagur, a politician elected in the July elections, and who was widely tipped to become the next President of the House of Representatives, was kidnapped from his Tripoli home in the late afternoon of the 29 July by an armed group in an ambulance.[142] He was released several hours later, at 3am in the morning of the 30 July, without any ransom having been paid.[143] Abushagur later held a conference on the 1 August in Tripoli, where he claimed to have been kidnapped by The Zintani Barq Al-Nasr militia, although he stressed he did not believe the group to have been acting on behalf of their city.[144]

On 30 July Mohamed Sowan, the leader of the Justice and Construction Party; the Libyan wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, voiced support for the ongoing offensive in Tripoli by Islamist militias against Zintani Militias at Tripoli International Airport. Sawan claimed the offensive was a legitimate response to the anti-Islamist Operation Dignity being led by General Haftar.[145]

The same day the leader of Ansar al-Sharia declared that Benghazi is an "Islamic Emirate". Protesters opposed to the militia group marched to the al-Jalaa hospital that the militants were guarding and temporarily seized it. The protesters also rallied to the special forces base that Ansar al-Sharia captured, but were dispersed when militants fired upon them.[146] By 31 July, Islamist forces affiliated with the newly formed Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries, which includes Ansar al-Sharia, was reported to have captured most of Benghazi. Forces loyal to General Haftar appeared to have had the territory under its control in the region reduced to Benina International Airport.[147] Speaking to al-Arabiya News, Haftar denied that Benghazi was under the control of militias, and instead claimed that his National Libyan Army was in control of the city, claiming instead that his LNA forces had only withdrawn from certain positions, and had done so for tactical reasons.[148]

Aircraft under the command of Brigadier-General Saqr Geroushi, the commander of Operation Dignity Air Force units, later launched nighttime air strikes on what they claimed to be an Ansar al-Sharia base in Ajdabiya, which had recently been taken by Ansar al-Sharia. Geroushi claimed the target; the compound of a Chinese construction company, had been being used by Ansar al-Sharia as an arms depot and a support base for its operations in Benghazi. In response to questions over reported deaths resulting from exploding arms in the depot, Geroushi claimed he did not know if anyone had been killed or injured in the raid. Geroushi claimed however that the assault would continue until Ansar al-Sharia was forced out of the town. Geroushi also claimed that Ansar al-Sharia had been taking their wounded from the fighting in Benghazi to the hospital in Ajdabiya, which he claimed had been taken over by Islamists. He also claimed the more severely wounded were being transported to Misrata, and then on to Turkey for treatment.[149]

August 2014

On 1 August, the Libyan Health Ministry announced that the recent fighting in the greater Tripoli and Benghazi areas had, up to Wednesday 30 July, resulted in a total of 214 deaths and 981 injuries recorded at hospitals. Libya Body Count, an independent NGO, claimed that July alone had seen over 400 deaths, with 253 recorded in Benghazi, and 130 in Tripoli.[150]

On 2 August, twenty-two people were killed and more than 70 wounded when a battle broke out in Tripoli International Airport, during which the government claimed that heavily armed groups attacked civilians, displacing hundreds of families.[151] Over the next couple of days, several missiles landed randomly on the city's airport road and in nearby districts such as Abu Sleem, Seraj and Krimea among others. Rocket attacks in Hadba killed several people, including a 59-year old Indian worker. In Tripoli's western suburb of Janzour, the local Fursan Janzour militia as well as the National Mobile Forces camp, which is part of the Misrata-led Operation Dawn and allied to the militia, came under attack and were overrun by Zintan's Barq al-Nasr Brigade, backed by Warshefana forces. The number of fatalities during the fighting is unknown. Libya's Red Crescent estimated that 2,500 families were forced to flee during the violence.[152]

On 5 August, Warshefana forces captured Camp 27, an important military barracks, in an overnight joint operation with the Zintanis from Libya Shield 1, an Islamist militia.[3] On 6 August 2014, the Benghazi Revolutionary Shura Council announced that they had seized three additional army bases in Benghazi, seizing a large number of heavy weapons and armored vehicles in the process.[153] On 7 August 2014, Camp 27 was reported to have been retaken by forces affiliated with the Operation Libya Dawn coalition.[154]

On Sunday 10 August Maj. Gen. Abdulsalam Al-Obaidi, the Chief of Staff of the Libyan National Army, gave evidence in a three hour session before the newly elected House of Representatives in Tobruk.[155] During the session Obaidi claimed he had “no control” over the various government funded rebel groups.[156] Speaking about the Libya Shield Force, Obaidi claimed he had no way to find out how many soldiers were fighting under the Force, and also claimed to have no way to either reform the group or change its leadership.[156] Mohammed el-Jarh, a Libyan analyst based in Tripoli, claimed that members of the House of Representatives were determined to hold Obaidi accountable after his comments.[156] Benghazi representative Salih al-Shawihidi denied that there were plans to replace Obaidi with Saad al-Qatrani.[156] The following day a letter that had been sent by Obaidi to numerous militias on the 6 August was leaked on the internet. In the letter Obaidi instructed all groups, including the Libya Shield Forces which are officially under his command, and which he had assigned to Tripoli, to stop fighting. The letter reflected the House of Representatives decision No. 3, which had been issued on the same day, and which ordered all sides to commit to an immediate cease fire.[157]

Operation Dignity tries to close Benghazi Port

On 11 August Brig. Gen. Saqr Adam Geroushi, Command of Operation Dignity's Air Force Units, stated that Operation Dignity units would attack any ships attempting to enter Benghazi port, despite any orders from Benghazi Municipal Council or the Libyan government.[158] Geroushi claimed that the port was being used by Islamist fighters to reinforce and resupply their positions in Benghazi, and that reinforcements were being shipped to Benghazi form the ports of Mirsata, Ras Lanuf and Derna.[158] Operation Dignity Air Units reportedly proceeded to bomb the port of Derna on August 11.[158]

Operation Dignity forces had previously ordered the port to close, although the Benghazi council had announced on 9 August that the port would remain open.[158] The same day Operation Dignity spokesperson Mohamed Hejazi claimed all shipping to or from the ports of Misrata or Derna would also be fired upon.[158] Instead all shipping was ordered to redirect to the Operation Dignity stronghold of Tobruk.[158]

Assassination in Tripoli

On 12 August, masked gunmen shot dead Col. Muhammad Swaysi, head of Tripoli's police department, when his car was ambushed by two other vehicles after he left a meeting with local authorities in the Tajoura suburb. Two of his colleagues were kidnapped when they attempted to leave the car.[159] Suways was a supporter of Haftar's Operation Dignity, and had come out against the Misrata-led Operation Libya Dawn. Earlier in the week Suways, who was in charge of security in Tripoli, had ordered Tripoli's police officers to return to work, as Tripoli's police officers had not been in active service since the Civil War. A group calling itself the Official Operations Room, said to be linked with the LROR, claimed on its Facebook page that Misratan militias, with the help of others from Suq al-Huma, had arrested four individuals who it accused of planning to take over a camp in Tajoura. The group described the four as Gaddafi supporters, and claimed two, including Suways, had been killed.[160]

House votes to disband militias & calls for UN support

On 13 August the House of Representatives passed a law disbanding all officially recognized and funded militias formed after the 2011 February revolution, including Joint Operations Rooms[161] in an effort to strip the various groups of the legitimacy they claim to have been bestowed on them by the GNC & various government ministries.[162]

Out of the 104 Representatives present 102 voted in favour of the motion.[161] A deadline of 31 December 2014 was given for implementing the law.[161] The House had tried to pass the law the previous day although had failed to agree on the laws wording.[163] In spite of the law it was unclear how it would be enforced.[162]

A Libyan lawmaker speaking to Reuters claimed the law to cover "all armed brigades, including all the Shields and Qaqaa and Sawaiq."[162] Ali Saedy, Representative for Wadi Shatti, in live comments on Libyan TV, claimed that the law had been passed by a large majority of the House. He claimed that some of those opposed to the law felt that the time was not right to dissolve all Libyan militias, whilst others were opposed due to having different opinions or ideologies.[161] Ali Tekbali, a Representative for Tripoli, claimed that the reason only 104 of the House's 200 members took part was because many Representatives were unable to attend the vote in Tobruk due to being busy with various business.[161]

The same day the House also called for the United Nations & the Security Council to intervene in Libya in order to protect civilians & government institutions.[162] Representative Saedy claimed that the House had been forced into calling for international support after the House' calls for a ceasefire were ignored.[161]

Clashes in Benghazi and airstrikes in Tripoli

On 17 August, the Al-Saiqa special forces abandoned their last stronghold in the city, Benina Airport. They were pushed out through Gwarsha into Benghazi's Buatni district where Operation Dignity forces had asked the residents to leave the area for their safety. The head of Al-Saiqa said that the unit took over the airport road which was held by Ansar al-Sharia, adding that the Islamist group had been firing shells into Buatni's surroundings and that heavy clashes took place in Ard Bayera.[164]

Later that day, unidentified warplanes bombarded a number of positions in Tripoli, including the Islamist-held Wadi Rabie camp and an ammunition store owned by Misrata's Hattin Brigate in the town of Qasr bin Ghashir near the city's international airport. Five people were killed and more than 30 were wounded during the overnight operation. The government confirmed the incident and the Libyan armed forces' chief of staff, Gen. Abdulsalam Al-Obaidi, said that the attack involved two unidentified aircraft powered by laser-guided smart bombs and missiles fired from a 7 to 8 kilometers altitude.[165] He also said that the government's air force was not equipped with such weaponry and did not have the required technology nor the capacity to carry out the raids.[166] Furthermore, none of the country's militias are known to have warplanes. The Libya Revolutionaries Operations Room (LROR) allied to the Misratan brigades blamed Gen. Khalifa Haftar’s forces. Operation Dignity forces initially denied any involvement, adding that they only provided the coordinates.[165] However, Haftar's air chief, Gen. Saqr Geroushi, later confirmed his forces' involvement in a statement to Reuters. "We, the Operation Dignity, officially confirm to have conducted air strikes on some militias' locations belonging to Misrata militias," he said.[167] Geroushi also added that a munitions base at Sdada, south of Misrata, had also been bombed.[165]

Towns reject House of Representatives

The same weekend delegations from the cities of Misrata, Khoms, Zliten and Emsalata travelled to Sebha to in an attempt to try and persuade the local council and civil society organisations to order the area’s nine representatives in the new House of Representatives to withdraw.[168] Several days later the Sebha Municipal Council building was stormed by armed men who prevented council officials from reading a joint statement on Operation Dawn. One official claimed those responsible were members of the Awlad Sulaiman tribe, which is opposed to Operation Dawn.[169]

On 19 August, the Amazigh towns of Nalut and Kabaw in the Nafusa Mountains announced a boycott of the House of Representatives, which they claimed was unconstitutional.[168] The Nalut Municipal Council, along with Nalut's revolutionary brigades and civil society organisations called on Salem Ignan, the towns representative, to withdraw from the parliament, which they claimed had an obvious bias towards Haftar's Operation Dignity, as seen in the fact that it was based in Tobruk. The Kabaw town leadership claimed that they would not recognise any decisions made by the new parliament, and also that the towns representative, Ali Al-Asawi, did not, and had never, represented the town. Both towns in particular rejected the House's call for foreign intervention in Libya in response to the upsurge in violence. Despite the timing of the announcements, the boycotts were seen as having more to do with long standing Amazigh boycott of the parliament over the issue of Amazigh representation, and less to do with the opposition to the parliament from Misrata and Islamist groups. It was immediately unclear whether the representatives from the towns would boycott the parliament.[168]

The following day leaders in Tarhuna released a statement announcing their opposition to the House of Representatives and their support for Operation Dawn. The town released a joint statement from the towns revolutionaries, Local Council, Military Council, Elders, Shura Council and a number of civil society organisations, in which they announced that the towns four representatives in the parliament did not represent the town, and represented only themselves. The town leaders also rejected all decisions made by the parliament, especially its recent call for a foreign intervention in Libya. The statement denounced the call as a "flagrant violation of the sovereignty of Libya and a betrayal of the will of the Libyan people," and claimed that the airstrikes conducted several days prior against Operation Dawn were the result of the decision. The groups also declared that they had set up a Revolutionary Shura Council of Tarhuna, which they claimed would assume full responsibility for correcting the path of the nation and implementing the principles of and goals of the Libyan Revolution.[170]

Splits emerge in Benghazi

Splits between Islamist groups in Benghazi also began to emerge in mid-August. On 16 August, a Muslim Brotherhood group made up of more moderate Islamists announced a new group to deal with problems in the city, called the Shura Council of Benghazi. In response, the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries, a jihadist group, denounced the new group and claimed that they would not recognize it. The Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries also claimed that the new rival group was attempting to grab power and capitalize on the gains made by the jihadists.[171][172]

Fall of Tripoli Airport

On 23 August, after after more than a month of fighting, Tripoli International Airport finally fell to fighters from Libyan Central Shield, a coalition of Islamist and Misrata forces.[173][174] The following day, Operation Dawn forces announced that they have consolidated the whole city and adjacent towns after driving out rival Zintan militias 90 kilometers south of the capital.[175] Libya's newly elected parliament condemned the offensive and called the militants now in control of Tripoli "terrorist organizations". Operation Dawn spokesman later called for the re-assembly of the previous Islamist-dominated GNC and said that the taking over of the airport was necessary to "save the country's sovereignty".[176] The Los Angeles Times reported that at least 90% of the airport's facilities, and 20 airplanes, were destroyed in the fighting.[177]

September 2014

Islamist armed groups extended their control of central Tripoli. The Council of Deputies parliament set up operations on a Greek car ferry in Tobruk. A rival New General National Congress parliament continued to operate in Tripoli.[175][178]

On 15 September, targets in the predominately Amazigh city of Gharyian were subjected to air strikes. Khalifa Haftar claimed to have ordered these attacks.[179]

On 21 September 2014 a rival oil minister, Mashallah al-Zawie, gave a speech at the oil ministry in Tripoli.[180][181]

October 2014

Military confrontation between factions in western Libya, particularly since the beginning of October, has increasingly been waged between groups supportive of the Zintani brigades and opponents of those forces. The spread of combat zones beyond Tripoli as well as the intensification of fighting in the Nafusa Mountains has accelerated this trend.[182][183]

A Libya Dawn source reported that clashes had erupted along the al-Kassarat road and in the Wadi al-Hai region.[184][185] The fighting was primarily between a coalition of Misratan and Gharyianian militiamen and other Libyan Dawn forces on one side and an alliance of the Zintani-oriented Qa'qa' milita and forces aligned with Warshafana and the Noble Tribes on the other. Libyan Dawn forces claim to have captured the Wadi al-Hai region as a result of these battles.[185]

Heavy fighting commenced in the city of Kikla and the surrounding vicinity on October 11 when Zintani brigades initiated an offensive to gain control over various towns and routes in the Nafusa Mountains.[186] Many residents wounded in the fighting are being treated at medical facilities in Gharyan.[186] The escalating strife in the Nafusa Mountains has raised fears of the prospect for broader tribal and ethnic warfare.[186]

On October 15, units associated with Khalifa Haftar and Operation Dignity staged ground and air attacks against the Ansar al-Sharia and February 17 Martyrs Brigade organizations in Benghazi.[187] Haftar claimed that this was the concluding stage of Operation Dignity and that he would retire from his position upon termination of the operation.[187] There are conflicting reports about possible Egyptian involvement or assistance in the offensive.[187][188]

Also on October 15, the Libya Herald quoted a Zintani commander as stating the clashes were ongoing between Zintani militias and the Saraya Gharian force in the vicinity of Gwalish.[189] The Libya Herald also reported that officials in Gharyan have requested military assistance from the cities of Jadu and Nalut in fighting the Zintani brigades.[189]

The Tripoli-based political authority has announced its own set of oil policies, drawing criticism and denunciation from Prime Minister Thinni of the Bayda/Tobruk-based government.[190][191] The rival oil minister, Mashallah al-Zawie, has urged the resumption of stalled investments.[190][191]

Clashes between Tuareg and Tebu tribal militias have repeatedly flared in Ubari at various times during October.[192]

At the end of October, radical militants in control of the Libyan city of Derna pledged their allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, thus making Derna the first city outside Syrian and Iraq to become part of the Islamic State caliphate.[12]

November 2014

On November 1, Zintan militia captured the town of Kikla, killing 18 and wounding 84 Islamist fighters.[193]

On November 5, a Tuareg militia reportedly seized control of the El Sharara oil field in Fezzan.[194]

On November 11, Sudanese foreign minister Ali Karti claimed that the rival Libyan governments had both accepted a peace initiative proposed by Sudan as a framework for resolving the division and conflict permeating the country.[195]

On November 12, car bombs were detonated in Tobruk and al-Bayda. The Tobruk attack reportedly wounded at least 21 people.[196] On November 13, bombs targeted the embassies of Egypt and the UAE in Tripoli.[197]

On November 24, warplanes affiliated with Operation Dignity forces attacked the Mitiga airport in Tripoli. The attack led to a temporary shut down of the airport, though it reportedly failed to damage the airport facilities, as munitions instead struck and damaged nearby houses.[198] On November 25, a second air raid against Mitiga was conducted, although this attack also failed to incapacitate the facility's infrastructure.[199] In response to the attack on Mitiga, a court in Tripoli issued an arrest warrant for Khalifa Haftar.[200]

December 2014

On December 2, local sources in the city of Zuwara reported that aircraft associated with Operation Dignity struck a food supply storage area, a fishing port, and a chemical factory, damaging these facilities, as well as killing eight and wounding twenty-four.[201][202]

A demonstration was held in Tripoli's Algeria Square calling for the implementation of a constitutional monarchy as a means of resolving some of the country's difficulties.[203][204]

After amassing strength in Sirte, Misratan forces launched on December 13 an offensive called "Operation Sunrise" against the Petroleum Facilities Guard, led by Ibrahim Jathran, and other pro-Tobruk forces for control of Ras Lanuf and the Sidra oil terminal.[205] Several days of clashes over the oil facilities have ensued, including the deployment of airstrikes in the struggle.[206] Most of the air assaults have been conducted by forces allied with the Tobruk-based government, however, Libya Dawn forces allegedly carried out an airstrike on December 16 in the al-Hilal region. This attack reportedly caused no casualties or infrastructure damage.[206]

On December 16, a car bomb detonated in Tripoli near the city's security headquarters, reportedly causing no casualties but inflicting damage on nearby buildings and cars.[206]

On December 18, the National Oil Corporation reiterated its commitment to political neutrality and independence from partisan affiliation with either of the two rival governments.[207]

On December 25, Libya Dawn militia launched an assault on a power plant inside Sirte killing at least 19 soldiers. On the same day a rocket struck an oil export terminal in the city of Sidra engulfing it in flames.[208]

On December 27, a car bomb was detonated in Tripoli near the General Directorate for the Protection of Diplomatic Missions, though no casualties were reported. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.[209]

On December 28, the Libyan air force struck Misrata airport as a reprisal for attacks by Libya Dawn on oil terminals. A port facility, an air force academy, and a steel plant were also targeted. Local security officials claimed that the airport sustained no damage and remained operational.[210]

On December 30, the Libyan air force shot down a Libya Dawn helicopter around Al-Sidra oil terminal. Aircraft and at least one helicopter from the militia had attacked government forces deployed in the area.[211]


On 5 January, the Libyan air force struck a Greek-owned tanker off the coast of Darna that was acting 'suspiciously', killing two crew members and wounding two.[212]

On January 9, assailants attacked the al-Nabaa News TV Channel's headquarters in Tripoli with rocket-propelled grenades, inflicting damage on the facility.[213] No casualties were reported.[213]

On 16 January, the Operation Dignity and Libya Dawn factions declared a ceasefire and agreed to form a unity government and further political talks.[18]

On January 27, gunmen attacked the Corthinia Hotel, a location frequently used by Libyan officials and foreign diplomats, in Tripoli.[214][215] After detonating a car bomb in the parking lot, the assailants stormed the building and opened fire, killing at least ten individuals besides the attackers.[214][215] Libyan security forces have since reclaimed control over the hotel building. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack.[214]

On February 4, gunmen believed to be linked to the Islamic State stormed and seized control of the Al-Mabrook oilfield south of the city of Sirte. A French diplomatic source in Paris said four local employees were believed to have been killed in the raid.[216]

On February 9, the Islamic State reportedly took over the town of Nofaliya in Sirte District, after a convoy of 40 heavily armed vehicles arrived from Sirte and ordered Nofaliya's residents to "repent" and pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The fighters appointed Ali Al-Qarqaa as emir of the town.[17][217]

On February 13, gunmen affiliated with the IS seized government buildings and radio and television stations in Sirte.[218][219] These force reportedly issued an ultimatum demanding other military entities evacuate the city by the dawn of Sunday (15 February).[220] In response, the new GNC of the Tripoli-based government announced a decision to form a joint force to reclaim facilities in Sirte from IS militants.[221]

The Islamic State in Libya released a video on February 15 depicting the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians from Egypt. Within hours, the Egyptian Air Force responded with airstrikes against IS training locations and weapons stockpiles in Derna in retaliation for the killings, killing around 50 militants and 7 civilians.[222][223][224] Warplanes acting under orders from the Tobruk-based government also struck targets in Derna, reportedly in coordination with Egypt, whereas the Tripoli-based government condemned the airstrikes, calling them "terrorism" and "a violation of sovereignty in Libya".[224][225]

After tens of raids, IS forces retreated from Sirte on 17 February, leaving the city to the Misrata brigade (loyal to the Islamist government of Tripoli). The same brigade launched an attack to the city of Zintan.

On 18 February, while the U.N. Security Council had been summoned to discuss the crisis, Egyptian special forces conducted strikes in the city of Derna, claiming they killed 150 IS militants, with 51 taken as prisoners.

Domestic reactions

Haftar and his supporters describe Operation Dignity as a "correction to the path of the revolution" and a "war on terrorism".[226][227][228] The elected parliament has declared Haftar's enemies are "terrorists".[65] Opponents of Haftar and the elected government claim he is attempting a coup. Omar al-Hasi, the Prime Minister of the Libya Dawn-backed Tripoli government, speaking of his allies' actions, has stated that: "This is a correction of the revolution." He has also contended: "Our revolution had fallen into a trap."[229] Dawn commanders claim to be fighting for a "revolutionary" cause rather than for religious or partisan objectives.[230] Islamist militia group Ansar al-Sharia (linked to the 2012 Benghazi attack) has denounced Haftar's campaign as a western-backed "war on Islam"[231] and has declared the establishment of the "Islamic Emirate of Benghazi".

Foreign reactions, involvement, and evacuations

Neighboring countries


Early in May 2014, the Algerian military said it was engaged in an operation aimed at tracking down militants who infiltrated the country's territory in Tamanrasset near the Libyan border, during which it announced that it managed to kill 10 "terrorists" and seized a large cache of weapons near the town of Janet consisting of automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and ammunition boxes.[232] The Times reported on May 30 that Algerian forces were strongly present in Libya and it was claimed shortly after by an Algerian journalist from El Watan that a full regiment of 3,500 paratroopers logistically supported by 1,500 other men crossed into Libya and occupied a zone in the west of the country. They were later shown to be operating alongside French special forces in the region. However, all of these claims were later denied by the Algerian government through Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal who told the senate that "Algeria has always shown its willingness to assist [our] sister countries, but things are clear: the Algerian army will not undertake any operation outside Algerian territory".[233]

On 16 May 2014, the Algerian government responded to a threat on its embassy in Libya by sending a team of special forces to Tripoli to escort its diplomatic staff in a military plane out of the country. "Due to a real and imminent threat targeting our diplomats the decision was taken in coordination with Libyan authorities to urgently close our embassy and consulate general temporarily in Tripoli," the Algerian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.[234] Three days later, the Algerian government shut down all of its border crossings with Libya and the army command raised its security alert status by tightening its presence along the border, especially on the Tinalkoum and Debdab border crossings. This also came as the state-owned energy firm, Sonatrach, evacuated all of its workers from Libya and halted production in the country.[235] In mid-August, Algeria opened its border for Egyptian refugees stranded in Libya and said it would grant them exceptional visas to facilitate their return to Egypt.[236]


Egyptian authorities have long expressed concern over the instability in eastern Libya spilling over into Egypt due to the rise of jihadist movements in the region, which the government believes to have developed into a safe transit for wanted Islamists following the 2013 coup d'état in Egypt that ousted Muslim Brotherhood-backed president Mohamed Morsi. There have been numerous attacks on Egypt's trade interests in Libya which were rampant prior to Haftar's offensive, especially with the kidnapping of truck drivers and sometimes workers were murdered.[237] Due to this, the military-backed government in Egypt had many reasons to support Haftar's rebellion and the Islamist February 17th Martyrs Brigade operating in Libya has accused the Egyptian government of supplying Haftar with weapons and ammunition, a claim denied by both Cairo and the rebel leader.[238] Furthermore, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who has become increasingly popular among many Libyans wishing for stability,[239] has called on the United States to intervene militarily in Libya during his presidential candidacy, warning that Libya was becoming a major security challenge and vowed not to allow the turmoil there to threaten Egypt's national security.[240]

On 21 July, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry urged its nationals residing in Libya to adopt measures of extreme caution as it was preparing to send consular staff in order to facilitate their return their country following an attack in Egypt's western desert region near the border with Libya that left 22 Egyptian border guards killed.[241] A week later, the ministry announced that it would double its diplomatic officials on the Libyan-Tunisian border and reiterated its call on Egyptian nationals to find shelter in safer places in Libya.[242] On August 3, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia agreed to cooperate by establishing an airbridge between Cairo and Tunis that would facilitate the transfer of 2,000 to 2,500 Egyptians from Libya daily.[243]

On 31 July, two Egyptians were shot dead during a clash at the Libyan-Tunisian border where hundreds of Egyptians were staging a protest at the Ras Jdeir border crossing. As they tried to cross into Tunisia, Libyan authorities opened fire to disperse them.[244] A similar incident occurred once again on August 15, when Libyan security forces shot dead an Egyptian who attempted to force his way through the border along with hundreds of stranded Egyptians and almost 1,200 Egyptians made it into Tunisia that day.[236] This came a few days after Egypt's Minister of Civil Aviation, Hossam Kamal, announced that the emergency airlift consisting of 46 flights aimed at evacuating the country's nationals from Libya came to a conclusion, adding that 11,500 Egyptians in total had returned from the war-torn country as of August 9.[245] A week later, all Egyptians on the Libyan-Tunisian border were evacuated and the consulate's staff, who were reassigned to work at the border area, withdrew from Libya following the operation's success.[246] Meanwhile, an estimated 50,000 Egyptians (4,000 per day) arrived at the Salloum border crossing on the Libyan-Egyptian border as of early August.[247]


Along with most of the international community, Malta continues to recognize the Council of Deputies as the legitimate government of Libya. Libyan charge d'affaires Hussin Musrati insisted that by doing so, Malta was "interfering in Libyan affairs".[248] Due to the conflict, there are currently two Libyan embassies in Malta. The unrecognized new General National Congress now controls the official Libyan Embassy in Balzan, while the internationally recognized Council of Deputies has opened a consulate in Ta' Xbiex. Each of the two embassies say that visas issued by the other entity are not valid.[249]

Following the expansion of the Islamic State in Libya, particularly the fall of Nawfaliya, the Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Leader of the Opposition Simon Busuttil called for the United Nations and European Union to intervene in Libya to prevent the country from becoming a failed state.[250][251]


Post-revolutionary Tunisia also had its share of instability due to the violence in Libya as it witnessed an unprecedented rise in radical Islamism with increased militant activity and weapons' smuggling through the border.[252]

In response to the initial clashes in May, the Tunisian National Council for Security held an emergency meeting and decided to deploy 5,000 soldiers to the Libyan–Tunisian border in anticipation of potential consequences from the fighting.[253] On July 30, Tunisian Foreign Minister Mongi Hamdi said that the country cannot cope with the high number of refugees coming from Libya due to the renewed fighting. "Our country's economic situation is precarious, and we cannot cope with hundreds of thousands of refugees," Hamdi said in a statement. He also added that Tunisia will close its borders if necessary.[254]


  •  United Nations - On 27 August, the UN Security Council unanimously approved resolution 2174 (2014), which called for an immediate ceasefire and an inclusive political dialogue.[255] The resolution also threatened to impose sanctions, such as asset freezes and travel bans, against the leaders and supporters of the various militias involved in the fighting, if the individuals threaten either the security of Libya or the political process.[22]
  •  France – On July 30, the French government temporarily closed its embassy in Tripoli, while 40 French, including the ambassador, and 7 British nationals were evacuated on a French warship bound to the port of Toulon in southern France. "We have taken all necessary measures to allow those French nationals who so wish to leave the country temporarily," the foreign ministry said in a statement.[256][257]
  •  India – Ministry of External Affairs spokesman, Syed Akbaruddin, said that India's diplomatic mission in Libya has been touch with the 4,500 Indian nationals, through several co-ordinators. "The mission is facilitating return of Indian nationals and working with the Libyan authorities to obtain necessary exit permissions for Indian nationals wanting to return," he said.[258]
  •  Italy -The Italian embassy has remained open during the civil war[259] and the government has always pushed for the success of UN-hosted talks among Libya’s political parties in Geneva. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said “If there’s no success, Italy is ready to play a leading role, above all a diplomatic role, and then, always under the aegis of the UN, one of peacekeeping inside Libya”, adding that “Libya can’t be left in the condition it is now.”[260]
  •  Thailand – In late July, the Thai government asked Libya's authorities to facilitate the evacuation of its nationals by exempting the need for exit visas.[261] As of August 14, over 800 Thai workers have been successfully evacuated from the country,[262] while Thailand's Ministry of Labour announced that it would prepare jobs for more than 2,800 workers residing in Libya.[263]
  •  United Kingdom – Following France's evacuation of some British nationals, the UK's embassy in Tripoli was the only diplomatic mission still open in the war-torn city. However, British diplomats residing there have sought refuge in a fortified compound south-west of the city to avoid the repetitive rocket attacks by warring militias.[264] Three days earlier, a convoy carrying British diplomats from Tripoli to Tunisia came under fire when their vehicles refused to stop at an unofficial checkpoint in the outskirts of the city.[265] On August 2, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office finally announced that it would temporarily close its embassy in the capital and evacuate its staff. Ambassador Michael Aron said that the embassy would continue to operate from Tunisia.[266] The following day, the Royal Navy ship HMS Enterprise managed to evacuate more than a hundred foreign nationals from the country to Malta, most of whom were British, in an operation off the coast of Tripoli.[267]
  • Libya had been awarded the rights to host the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in association football; however, the tournament was stripped from the country in August 2014, due to concerns over the ongoing conflict.[268]

See also


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