Exclusive - AFRICOM Expects ISIS Attack on Libya’s Oil Crescent
A senior official in the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) said that ISIS was likely plotting attacks on Libya’s strategic oil crescent.
In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, AFRICOM spokeswoman Robyn Mack said: “At the moment, we believe that the organization (ISIS-Libya) is likely to give priority to the restructuring of security forces and infrastructure, and to launch strikes, which may include targets in the Libyan oil crescent.”
The oil crescent, which is located 500 km east of the capital Tripoli, encompasses the largest oil reserves in Libya, as well as the ports of Sidra, Ras Lanuf and Brega.
The Libyan National Army succeeded in regaining control of the area in November 2016 following a massive military operation.
Mack suggested that ISIS-Libya would maintain its current strategy, which focuses on rebuilding its operational capabilities and exploiting areas under Libyan control, to destabilize the country and disrupt the political process.
“The United States stands by its Libyan counterparts and supports their efforts to combat terrorist threats and defeat ISIS there. We are committed to continuing to exert pressure on the terrorist network and prevent it from establishing a safe haven,” she stressed.
Brigadier General Ahmad al-Mesmari, spokesman for the LNA, confirmed the authenticity of this information.
“Yes, they have tried more than once to reach the oil crescent and were faced by our forces that secure the region,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Last week, an explosion occurred at a Waha-operated pipeline near Marada in the oil crescent region. A source in the National Oil Corporation in Libya said gunmen possibly caused the explosion.
Meanwhile, a senior Libyan military official said that the army was preparing to enter the city of Derna, east of Libya, and liberate it from the grip of ISIS, while stressing the confidentiality of any information regarding the next battle.
“There will be no talks on Derna due to the secrecy of operations. It is impossible to publish information,” he stated.