Anti-ISIS Ops Room seizes Sabratha, makes deals locally
On 6 October, the Anti-ISIS Operations Room (AIOR), a force technically under the authority of the Government of National Accord (GNA) but politically more aligned with Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), took control of Sabratha from the Anas Dabbashi Brigade following three weeks of intense fighting that left 43 people dead and 300 wounded. The leader of the AIOR, General Omar Abdeljalil, said in a video that Sabratha had been “liberated and… the destructive militias have been defeated.”
The situation is complicated due to contradictory loyalties and shifting affiliations. GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj welcomed the take-over while the Anti-ISIS Operations Room also declared its loyalty to the GNA. However, the Dabbashi militia, and its allies the 48 Brigade, are also affiliated to the GNA. The GNA also reportedly sent separate forces to Sabratha, headed by the recently appointed Western Region Commander General Usama Juwili, in order to help broker ceasefires and new security arrangements with the LNA affiliated units.
Sources say that Ahmed Dabbashi (aka al-Ammo), leader of the Dabbashi militia, fled to Zawiyya where he is now protected by the militia still controlling Zawiyya port. The security situation is tense in Zawiyya since rivals of the Abu Hmairah clan, which controls Zawiyya port, are said to be gearing up for action against the Abu Hmairah in a move akin to the Sabratha conflict. LNA affiliated units also took over the nearby towns of Ajilat and al-Jmil, and are set to ‘takeover’ the Libyan -Tunisian border town of Ras Ejdir in the coming days. At the Mellitah Oil and Gas complex just west of Sabratha, the Dabbashi militia which was guarding it have been routed but the LNA affiliated forces appear to have struck a deal with the Zuwaran 105th Brigade to provide security at the complex.
Strategic shifts in the balance of power in the aftermath of the Sabratha clashes indicate accelerating volatility and there is now scope for major conflict and instability in the western region, including in Tripoli.