The Joint Military Operations of the Libyan National Army (LNA) in Ajdabiya has said that it is going to launch fresh military operations in the town’s suburbs against the so-called Islamic State (IS) and other jihadist groups. However, the town’s mayor, Salem Jadhran, has sent a message to the LNA opposing the move, saying that local army forces to were able to deal with the matter.
In leaflets distributed in the town yesterday, the LNA called on locals to secure the town centre but also warned that any buildings thought to be used by militants as weapons stores or for any other purpose would be targeted in air strikes. In the leaflets, the LNA stressed it did not see Ajdabiya itself as an enemy nor was it intent on targeting any family or tribe. The raids, it stated, would be focused purely against those terrorists who had murdered army officers and soldiers as well as other individuals recently and who wanted Ajdabiya to follow Sirte and fall under the control of IS.
The LNA added it would not carry out revenge attacks against the families of suspected militants such as setting their homes on fire or forcing them to flee the town.
However, there was a warning to fighters with the Libya Shield forces in Ajdabiya, which are linked to the pro-Islamist Ajdabiya Revolutionaries Shoura Council: they could support the LNA in the war against terrorism and be accepted as heroes or they could stand with the militants and be destroyed.
Responding to the threat, Mayor Jadhran said while terrorism and IS posed a threat to the town, the army had to keep out of the fight. Any attempt to turn Ajdabiya into a battlefield would be a violation of international law, he suggested. “We are able to eradicate terrorism and bring the perpetrators to justice,” he claimed. He suggested that the local units of the border control forces would do the job.
There was no mention of the Petroleum Facilities Guard, led by his brother Ibrahim Jadhran who has a bitter relationship with the LNA and its leader General Khalifa Hafter.
The town has seen a growing wave of killings in the town over the past year which no force has managed to prevent or bring the perpetrators to justice. In response to them, the LNA had already launched air strikes in November and earlier this month – similarly to little effect.