Libya/United States/Da’esh – US fighter jets have carried out air raids on positions of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the Libyan city of Sirte for the first time, according to the country's unity government. "The first American air strikes on precise positions of the Da’esh (ISIL) organisation were carried out on the 2 Aug 16 causing heavy losses ... in Sirte," Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj said in a speech on television on the 1 Aug 16. The Pentagon said the raids were launched in response to a request from the unity government, known as the Government of National Accord (GNA). The Libyan army had asked for air support after facing booby traps, mines, and roadside bombs in and around Sirte. Da’esh had made it physically very difficult to follow them as Da’esh strengthens their grip on the heart of the city, it was reported. These air strikes are a way of clearing the terrain and making it safer for Libyan troops to advance. The battle will become more complex as it moves closer to the centre of the city because there are many civilians there who could get caught in the crossfire. Speaking to reporters, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said the US would continue to carry out air raids in coordination with the GNA. "The specific targets will be precision targets," Cook said. "One of the targets struck today was a tank ... the United States military will be rigorously involved in every step of the process. "We don't have an end point [for the bombing campaign] at this particularly moment of time ... we certainly hope that this something that does not require a lengthy amount of time." The Tripoli-based GNA in May 16 launched an assault to retake Sirte which ISIL has controlled since Jun 15. The fall of Sirte, 450 kilometres east of Tripoli, would be a major blow to the group, which has also suffered a series of setbacks in Syria and Iraq. The battle for the city has killed around 280 pro-government fighters and wounded more than 1,500, according to medical sources attached to government forces. The pro-GNA forces are mostly made up of militias from western Libya established during the 2011 war that overthrew Gaddafi. 361 COMMENT: It is important to keep up the pressure on Da’esh in as many fronts as possible. With the area in Iraq/Syria getting smaller these attacks in Libya will hopefully deter those members of Da’esh from heading to Libya to continue their hideous ideology. The Americans and the Libyan government will see this and react accordingly in a pro-active manner. Libya would be the next point that Da’esh would try to exploit in the current environment of unrest. But now with the American involvement and the Libyan government asking for assistance Da’esh may have to look elsewhere. The other point that maybe worth considering is that with the demise of Da’esh in Libya so the security of Europe will be much better. COMMENT ENDS
Libya/Da’esh – Forces loyal to Libya's Government of National Accord said they have seized a new sector near the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group’s command centre in Sirte. The pro-GNA forces have been engaged in a military operation since the 12 May 16 to retake the coastal city, which lies 450 kilometres east of Tripoli. On the 8 May 16 the loyalists said that they had seized an area of guest houses close to the Ouagadougou conference centre, the complex from the era of slain leader Muammar Gaddafi where the ISIL fighters have their headquarters. Pro-GNA forces entered Sirte in Jun 16, but their progress slowed as they were hit back with sniper fire, suicide attacks and car bombings. Since the 4 Aug 16 pro-GNA forces have been battling to reach the conference centre. "Our forces have targeted Da’esh snipers and their mines," the statement said. The guest houses are east of the Al-Dollar district, which the pro-GNA forces took last week and where VIP guests attending events at the Ouagadougou complex used to be housed. On the 7 Aug 16 the loyalist forces said they would soon begin a final assault to retake Sirte from ISIL.
Mozambique/Renamo – Six people have been killed in an attack by Renamo rebels in Mozambique, police said on the 15 Aug 16 the latest in a string of violent skirmishes between opposition fighters and government forces. “Armed men from Renamo ambushed a vehicle on the 12 Aug 16 firing at it until it caught fire,” police spokesman Daniel Macuacua said. “Six people were burnt to death.” All the victims were civilians, though their identities have not been released. “We are still looking for any potential survivors who may have escaped,” Macuacua added. Renamo, which waged a 16-year civil war that ended in 1992, has refused to accept the results of 2014 elections when it was beaten once more by the ruling Frelimo party, in power since independence 40 years ago. Since 2013, tensions have risen and Renamo fighters have again taken up arms in a battle that it says is against a Frelimo elite who have enriched themselves at the expense of the country. Peace talks are underway, but authorities blame the stand-off for an uptick in violent attacks in northern and central parts of Mozambique. In May, 13 bodies were found in the restive centre of the country where security forces and Renamo rebels have frequently clashed, while the Mozambican Human Rights League (LDH) claimed at least 83 summary executions had been reported since the start of the year. Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama has been living in hiding since October 2015 after he escaped two attacks against his convoy. He claims government troops are continuously attacking his stronghold in central Gorongosa in an attempt to lure him out or kill him. The clashes have intensified in recent months following Dhlakama’s declaration in Dec 15 that he would take power in six of Mozambique’s 11 provinces which he claims he won in the 2014 elections.
Nigeria/Boko Haram/Da’esh – Nigeria's Boko Haram Islamic extremists have a new leader who promises to end attacks on mosques and markets used by Muslims, according to an interview published on the 3 Aug 16 by the ISIS group. The group's al-Nabaa newspaper identified Abu Musab al-Barnawi as the new "Wali" of its West Africa Province, a title previously used to describe long-time leader Abubakar Shekau. The report did not say what Shekau's current status is. The interview with al-Barnawi indicates a major change in strategy for the Nigerian extremists, who have attacked mosques with suicide bombers and gunmen, blown up suicide bombers in crowded marketplaces and killed and kidnapped school children. The targeting of students accounts for its nickname Boko Haram, which means Western education is sinful or forbidden. Wednesday's (3 Aug 16) announcement indicates a coup by Boko Haram breakaway group Ansaru against Shekau, and follows a trend of extremist Islamic groups moving away from al-Qaida to the ISIS analyst Jacob Zenn said. Ansaru broke away from Boko Haram because it disagrees with the indiscriminate killing of civilians, especially Muslims. Al-Barnawi is the pseudonym of a Nigerian journalist allied with Ansaru, which is known for kidnapping foreigners, according to Zenn. Hekau in Mar 15 declared that Boko Haram had become the Isis' West Africa Province. At the time, Boko Haram was the most powerful military force in northeast Nigeria, controlling a huge area and better equipped and motivated than Nigerian forces. Under Shekau, the seven-year insurgency spread to neighbouring countries, killed more than 20,000 people and driven more than 2.2 million from their homes, creating what aid workers have called a catastrophic humanitarian emergency. Since last year, Nigeria has a new leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, a former military dictator who has better armed and motivated security forces. He is also fighting corruption that diverted some $2.1 billion that was meant to buy weapons to fight the Islamic uprising, and is cooperating with a multinational force that has the extremists on the run. In the interview, al-Barnawi said that under his leadership the militants will work to seize back territory. He claimed that increasing numbers of youth are joining the cause, though Nigeria's military reports that hundreds of its fighters have surrendered as aerial bombardments and ground assaults cut supply routes.
South Sudan – South Sudan's government has agreed to allow the deployment of a regional protection force in the country, according to an East African bloc, after renewed fighting between rival groups last month put a fragile peace deal in danger it was reported on the 6 Aug 16. Such a force has been a key demand of former vice president Riek Machar, who fled the capital, Juba, after the outbreak of violence. The decision about the force was reached on the 5 Aug 16 at a summit meeting in Ethiopia of the leaders of the eight countries in the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) regional bloc. "The government of South Sudan has accepted (the deployment of troops) with no condition," Mahboub Maalim, IGAD's executive secretary, told reporters after the meeting in Addis Ababa, adding that the specific scope and mandate of the force had yet to be decided. The force could be used to help implement the August 2015 peace deal, as well protecting civilians and carrying out humanitarian duties, Maalim said. Military chiefs from member states also agreed that they would travel to Juba to work with South Sudan's government on the deployment of the new force. "South Sudan new Vice President Taban Deng Gai told the heads of states that he is ready to step down if, or when, the opposition leader Riek Machar returns to the capital," a correspondent said. Fighting broke out in Juba last month July between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and Machar, his long-time rival, threatening to send the world's youngest back to all-out conflict. The 12,000-strong UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, UNMISS, has faced criticism for failing to stem the latest bloodshed or fully protect civilians during the fighting. IGAD had previously raised the possibility of deploying an "intervention brigade" with a more aggressive mandate within the UN mission currently present. The intervention force for South Sudan could be modelled on the Force Intervention Brigade of 3,000 troops deployed within the UN's mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which proved decisive in neutralising the M23 rebellion in 2013.