Last night on Monday November 14 were airstrikes by “unknown aircraft” reported in the area of Gardhah al-Shati north of Sebha, the strikes that reportedly killed a number of terrorists gave rise to a lot of speculation in Libyan media and on social media platforms. The reports were very conflicting with assumptions on many potential targets, mentioned was Abderrahmane Talha or his nom the guerre Talha al-Mauritani, AQIM’s commander of the Furqan Brigade active in the Tombouctou region. Another potential target was Abdel Moneim Salem Khalifah Hasnawi known as Abu Talha al-Libi, former commander of the Muhajireen Brigade active in the Latakia province of Syria, recently spotted in Sebha according to a local source. Document below shows Hasnawi as coordinator for a group of fighters within the so-called “Thuwar Sebha”, some of them among those fighting ISIS in Sirte, “Thuwar Sebha” also works together with Misrata’s Third Force stationed in Sebha, Saraya Defend Benghazi which also is present in the region and remnants of Ibrahim Jathran’s Petroleum Facilities Guard.
With previously mentioned incident in mind one could easily look back at the airstrike that took place on September 20 at Agricultural Project Nina, near Sawknah. Until this day it is still unknown whether the Misratan Airforce conducted the strike to thwart LNA advances in the region or if Haftar’s LAF acted on intelligence that Ibrahim Jathran was present in the area. The airstrike only caused civilian casualties.
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No official claim of responsibility for the air raid has been made, but it is very much suspected that the airstrikes carried out was part of US ambitions to extend its aerial campaign against ISIS beyond Sirte by targeting fighters and operatives who have fled the former stronghold, hence not targeting any senior AQIM commanders like Talha al-Mauritani or Abdelmalek Droukdel and Mokhtar Belmokhtar as stated in multiple reports.
The Municipal Council of Gardhah al-Shati strongly condemned the bombardment in a communiqué, stating that the airstrikes caused civilian casualties and destroyed many houses while damaging others, further requesting clarification on the circumstances and information about the actor responsable for the airstrikes, also demanding a statement condemning the act and compensation for the affected families.
The news outlet Libya al-Aan later released a report stating that the Presidential Council of the Government of National Accord confirmed that the US conducted the airstrikes in southern Libya in coordination with the council, without specifying the target of the air raid.