By Libya Herald reporter.
Tripoli, 26 March 2015:
Operation Sunrise, set up three months ago by Libya Dawn to take the eastern oil fields . . .[restrict]and terminals, is reported to have pulled its forces from near Sidra and at Ben Jawad and is now based west of Sirte.
The pullout is said to be part of an agreement between Misrata and Ajdabiya to join forces against those of the Islamic State (IS) in Sirte.
Ali Al-Hassi, spokesman for Central Region Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) , which is headed by Ibrahim Jadhran, reported the pullout on his Facebook page saying that 400 military vehicles had departed.
“It’s not official yet, but it’s true,” a highly-placed Misratan source told the Libya Herald this afternoon.
Hassi said that the troops had simply pulled out and that there had been no deal with anyone. However, according to the Misratan source, there was an agreement with the PFG commander in Ajdabiya, Colonel Bashir Budafaira, on a joint offensive against IS.
As part of the pact, the source said, it was agreed that there would be an amnesty for any Libyan who had joined IS provided he renounced it. Any foreigner, however, would have to surrender or be “eliminated”, as the source put it.
The majority of IS forces in Sirte, as in Derna, are said to be non-Libyan.
A spokesman for Operation Sunrise has also confirmed the pullout but said that both sides had agreed to withdraw from their current positions. He would not, however, confirm whether a joint offensive against IS had been decided.
Two days ago, pro-Libya Dawn media in Tripoli had reported that elders in Sirte and Misrata Municipal Council had jointly called for a ceasefire in Sirte in order to launch a dialogue with IS militants in the town as of today, Thursday. The head of the Sirte Council of Elders, Muftah Marzug, was quoted saying that the aim was to prevent the destruction of Sirte and that his organisation would lead the dialogue.
This has, however, been flatly denied by the Misrata Municipal Council. Its spokesman, Osma Badi, said today that although there had been consultations between leaders and elders from Misrata and Sirte, in particular on the need to help civilians trapped in areas of conflict, there had been no agreement to end the current military operations in and around Sirte.
He added that those fighting the militants, whom he referred to as “criminals”, did not receive orders from Misrata but from their military superiors. The fight would continue, he said.
“There can be no dialogue with IS,” the Misratan source told this newspaper. “They have to be destroyed.” [/restrict]