IS forces attack Al-Sedra oil port in Libya

Ahmed Abbas
4 Min Read
A file picture taken from a video released on January 4, 2014 by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)'s al-Furqan Media allegedly shows ISIL fighters marching at an undisclosed location. ISIL gunmen seized Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, on June 10, 2014 as troops threw away their uniforms and abandoned their posts, officials said, in another blow to the Iraqi authorities, who appear incapable of stopping militant advances. (AFP PHOTO / AL-FURQAN MEDIA )

IS militants continued their attack on Al Sedra Oil port Tuesday in what marks the second day of their assault on the region’s key oil infrastructure.  Tuesday’s attack included rocket fire on an oil tank that resulted in a gasoline fire, said Ali El Hasy a spokesperson of the Libyan oil guards.

Al Hasy added that fighting between Islamic State (IS) forces and the Libyan Oil Guard has been pushed 30 kilometres away from the Al Sedra port, where fighting began on Monday and resulted in the deaths of at least seven guards and the injury of 25 others.

Tuesday’s attack happened while Libyan oil guards were extinguishing another gasoline fire at an oil tank in the neighbouring city of Ras Lanouf which was struck by IS rocket fire.

Fighting began Monday when IS forces detonated a car bomb at a checkpoint into Al-Sedra oil port.

IS executed the attack using dozens of cars in both Al-Sedra and Ras Lanouf, according to Colonel Bashir Bouzafira from the internationally recognized National Army that has aligned with the Tobruk parliament.

The situation in both cities is still unclear. Libyan local websites published pictures of an oil tank on fire. Alleged IS social media accounts claimed that the operation was named after the IS leader Nabil Al-Anbary who was killed in a US raid in Derna eastern Libya mid-November.

Al- Anbari was an Iraqi member in Al-Qaeda terror group before joining IS. He moved from Iraq to Libya in 2014 to lead the group’s operations there.

IS attacked the same port in October with a car bomb. Both Al-Sedra and Ras Lanouf have been closed for more than a year due to the continued clashes between Libyan fighting groups.

The oil ports are guarded by special guards in Libya to ensure their safety.

IS forces control the Libyan city of Sert and are slowly making territorial gains in Libya. IS forces have attacked several oil fields in the south but have failed to consolidate their control.

Some parties have pointed to the ongoing political strife between the two parliaments as preventing coordinated action against IS forces in Libya.

Deputy Speaker of the Tripoli Parliament in Libya Awad Abd Al-Sadeq told journalists last week that the General National Congress rejects the UN-backed Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) signed in Skhirat, Morocco on 17 December. He further stated that the MPs who have signed the agreement represent “only themselves”.

After a meeting between the UN envoy to Libya  Martin Kobler and Tripoli Parliament members in Tripoli, Abd Al-Sadeq said that “substantial amendments’’ needed to be implemented before the General National Congress could reach a decision on the agreement.

Kobler contends that political negotiations represent the way to resolve conflict and urges the sides to work within the framework established by the UN.

IS has control of most of Syria’s oil fields, which is considered their biggest source of revenue.

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Ahmed Abbas is a journalist at DNE’s politics section. He previously worked as Egypt based reporter for, and interned as a broadcast journalist at Deutsche Welle TV in Berlin. Abbas is a fellow of Salzburg Academy of Media and Global Change. He holds a Master’s Degree of Journalism and New Media from Jordan Media Institute. He was awarded by the ICFJ for best public service reporting in 2013, and by the German foreign office for best feature in 2014.
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