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Islamic State militants are trying to foment chaos by cutting power and water supplies and to identify receptive local communities

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Islamic State militants have shifted to desert valleys and inland hills southeast of Tripoli as they seek to exploit Libya’s political divisions after defeat in their former stronghold of Sirte, security officials say. The militants, believed to number several hundred and described as “remnants” of Islamic State’s Libya operation, are
trying to foment chaos by cutting power and water supplies and to identify receptive local communities, the officials said. They are being monitored through aerial surveillance and on-the-ground intelligence, but Libyan officials said they cannot easily be targeted without advanced air power of the kind used by the United States on Jan. 19, when B-2 bombers killed more than 80 militants in a strike southwest of Sirte. The threat is focused south of the coastal strip between Misrata and Tripoli, arcing to the southeast around the town of Bani Walid and into the desert south of Sirte, said Ismail Shukri, head of military intelligence in Misrata. One group of 60-80 militants is operating around Girza, 170 km (105 miles) west of Sirte, another group of about 100 is based around Zalla and Mabrouk oil field, about 300 km southeast of Sirte, and there are reports of a third group present in AlUwaynat, close the Algerian border, he said.

Air strike in Jufra region staged by forces loyal to Libya’s eastern government

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Forces loyal to Libya’s eastern government said they staged an air strike against opponents in the central Jufra region, according to a spokesman for the eastern-based Libyan National Army. Led by Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar the LNA over the last few months has made substantial military gains in Benghazi and Libya’s Oil Crescent region, provoking several attempted counter-attacks by rivals. The Libyan Nationl Army carried out air strikes this month to repel what it said was an attempt to recapture Oil Crescent ports it took control of in September. Shortly afterwards, it launched strikes against opponents at a military base in Jufra. The strikes have raised fears of a new escalation in Libya’s conflict. A U.N.-backed government in Tripoli has so far failed to reconcile Libya’s warring factions.

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