By Ajnadin Mustafa.
Tripoli, 6 June 2015:
The Islamic State has taken control of the small coast-road town of Harawa, 70 kilometres east . . .[restrict]of Sirte.
It was handed over yesterday by community elders after IS returned three hostages seized in earlier fighting with Harawa forces and whom the elders had demanded back in negotiations with the Islamists. The town had decided to negotiate a surrender to IS after Misrata forces pulled out from the area. Negotiations started last Sunday.
In a symblolic action, IS took down Libyan flags and replaced them with their own to indicate that as far as they area concerned Libya does not exist and that Hawara is now part of a different entity.
The capture of Harawa is a major boost for IS and means it now controls almost 200 kilometres of the coastal area stretching from west of Sirte almost to Ben Jawed near Nufaliya and within striking distance of Sidra and Ras Lanuf. It is also said to have free rein south into Jufra district and around the towns of Hun and Waddan.
Libya is divided into three: all Cyrenaica, apart from Derna and pockets in Benghazi, together with parts of the west, notably Zintan and the Warshefana area, supporting the internationally-recognised House of Representatives in Tobruk; most of Tripolitania and Fezzan recognising the the continuing General National Congress in Tripoli; and, in between, a growing IS power that also has Derna. So far there has been no comment from either the Thinni government in Beida or the Khalifa Gwell administration in Tripoli, which Harawa had backed.