einBy Ajnadin Mustafa.
Tripoli, 12 March 2016:
Fighting between gunmen from the so-called Islamic State (IS) and units of the Libyan National Army . . .[restrict]south of Mizdah, on the Tripoli-Sebha road, has continued today for the fourth day. According to a source within the LNA, it now has the IS force of some 150 men surrounded.
The fighting started on Thursday when IS set up a roadblock some 60 kilometres south of Mizdah (itself 170 kilometres south of Tripoli). It then arrested around ten people travelling along the road. All were released apart from a traffic police official named as Major Amr Bakoush. He has not been heard of since. A colleague with him managed to escape, however.
The IS forces were then attacked by units from the LNA, mainly Zintanis and Wirshefana.
In the subsequent fighting some five LNA soldiers are reported to have been killed, two of them yesterday, both said to be Zintanis.
The LNA source reports that the army has helicopter support from Wattiya airbase. It is being used to provide details of IS positions and movement, but there have been no air strikes.
The checkpoint set up by IS is some 40 kilometres south of the junction with the road leading to Nisma and Bani Walid. IS units are said to have been active along it and in the surrounding area for the past few weeks.
On Wednesday, reports of the Mizdah incident became confused with a IS operation at another checkpoint, in this case near Abu Grain, 100 kilometres south of Misrata. The area is the frontline between the Misratans and IS. The village of Abu Grain is reported in IS hands but the checkpoint, some ten kilometres to the west, is controlled by the Misratans.
Following a largely ineffective airstrike from Misrata on Sirte, IS forces launched a revenge attack on the checkpoint, killing three guards. A fourth, who as seriously injured, subsequently succumbed to his wounds.