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ISIS loses control of Libyan stronghold

Militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) acknowledged losing control of the city of Derna in eastern Libya and promised to “avenge” its fighters, according to Agence France Presse.

In a video recording posted on Twitter, a man in military uniform promised to avenge ISIS fighters who died in the fighting.

Senior Middle East analyst Michael Nayebi-Oskoui at U.S.-based global intelligence firm Stratfor said the loss of Derna does not greatly change ISIS’s effectiveness in Libya.

“ISIS being kicked out of Derna does not dramatically alter the capabilities or effectiveness of the IS in Libya, as the group has faced and will continue to face stiff opposition from local competitors,” he said.

“ISIS remains constrained in its ability to retaliate for any potential loss in Derna.”

“That said, attacks (including suicide attacks) against security checkpoints in and around Sirte, Benghazi and Tripoli are all possible,” Nayebi-Oskoui added.

Meanwhile, a 10-minute video posted late Saturday by the “media office of the province of Barqa” in Libya confirmed the loss of Derna after clashes.

The coastal city near the border with Egypt has often been described as the bastion of ISIS supporters in the North African country since its fighters first entered Derna in November 2014.

Derna has seen fierce fighting in recent weeks between the militant group and members of the Mujahedeen Council of Derna.

Its gunmen ousted ISIS from many areas of the city controlled for more than a year by armed groups including Ansar al-Sharia, which is close to al-Qaeda.

ISIS, which already controls large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, has exploited the chaos in Libya, notably taking control in June of the city of Sirte just 450 kilometres (280 miles) east of Tripoli.

 

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