Tensions increase in Sirte as LNA positions itself for potential siege
Over the last week, 5 members of the Government of National Accord (GNA) aligned Sirte General Security Forces, which is affiliated with the 604 Battalion, were arrested after Sirte tribal elders gave an ultimatum to the commander of the GNA Central Military Region, Mohammed al-Haddad, to address and recompense the overt brutality used by GNA-aligned Misratan forces against Sirte residents. During the week the GNA-aligned Sirte Protection Force (SPF) allegedly issued a high state of alert. Meanwhile, the SPF claimed on 12 June they established checkpoints in the south and east of the city and local reports on 17 June indicated an armed convoy moved within Sirte.
These events coincide with the Libya National Army (LNA) mobilising its forces to the south and east of Sirte and increased rhetoric warning they will launch an assault on the city. On 17 June, LNA forces bolstered their presence at Harawa east of Sirte. The LNA forces are reported to have closed down the Harawa Municipality under GNA-aligned Zidan bin Sharada. The LNA’s posturing in the area within the vicinity of Sirte serves to disrupt Misrata’s activity in the western region and Tripoli. While an immediate assault on Sirte by the LNA is unlikely – partly because family and tribal relatives of many LNA fighters reside in the city, and partly because of the limited capacity of LNA forces in the region due to the ongoing Tripoli campaign – it cannot be ruled out. Moreover, the LNA is likely planning to besiege the city on their own terms.