Libya Shura Council
The dominant forces fighting against Operation Dignity in the east of Libya are the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council and the Derna Mujahideen Shura Council. In early 2014 an alliance of groups, including Ansar al-Sharia, joined the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council to fight forces deployed under Operation Dignity. In Derna, heavy fighting took place in June 2015 between the Derna Mujahideen Shura Council and groups pledging allegiance to ISIL who were ejected from Derna but remain present in surrounding areas.
In mid-May 2014, in Benghazi, General Khalifa Haftar launched Operation Dignity (karama) against the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council, an alliance comprising Ansar al-Shari’a, Libya Shield units and other armed groups. Fierce fighting has continued since then. The Shura Council initially gained control of most of the city. Fighting in Benghazi intensified in mid-October 2014, following a renewed offensive by General Haftar’s forces — the Libya National Army —, which appeared to gained control of sizeable areas of Benghazi by December 2014.
Within the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council, there are a number of armed groups including Ansar al-Sharia, the Eastern Libya Shield, February 17th Martyrs Brigade, Rafallah al-Sahati Brigade, and Al-Zintan Martyrs. It was initially formed in June 2014 in specific response to Operation Dignity. In Derna, the Derna Mujahideen Shura Council was created in December 2014. It includes Derna-based Ansar al-Sharia and the Abu Salim Martyrs Brigade. Both Shura Councils are believed to be allied with some elements of Libya Dawn.
Ansar al-Sharia (Derna) and Ansar al-Sharia (Benghazi) are on the ISIL (Da’esh) and Al Qaida Sanctions List subject to sanctions imposed by the Security Council under resolution 1267 (1999) and successive resolutions, including resolution 2253 (2015).
By 2016, the United Nations-listed Ansar al Charia Benghazi (QDe.146), although weakened, remained a part of the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council coalition. The Shura Council leadership remained largely unchanged. It continues to be reported that Muhammad al-Darsi has replaced Muhammad al-Zahawi as the head of Ansar al Charia Benghazi. Two Shura Council commanders, Wisam bin Hamid and Jalal Makhzum, had previously made high-profile appearances on media productions published by Ansar al-Sharia.
The Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council and ISIL cooperate against LNA. From interviews, social media and the ISIL publication, Dabiq, it is clear that ISIL launched operations in the Sabri and Laythi districts in 2015. Contrary to, and despite, its overt hostility towards the Darnah Mujahideen Shura Council, ISIL and the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council operate in the same areas, indicating a coordination of military efforts (see annex 15). To safeguard the cooperation, the Shura Council published a communiqué in which it explicitly sought reconciliation with ISIL.
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