On Sunday the 8th February 2015, a huge convoy of ‘Islamic State’ fighters entered the town of Nawfaliyah located in the Sirte district of Libya. Pictures surfaced around social media of a large ‘Islamic State’ parade through the city with black flags and masked fighters. One of the first set of images that surfaced the internet showing ‘Islamic Stater’ fighters entering the city
There are several reports from the town that suggest it was ex-Ansar Al-Sharia members who facilitated the logistic support for these huge convoys of ISIS members to enter Nawfaliyah, and the ‘Islamic State’ also demanded the residents of the town to give pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, similar to how they did it in the eastern city of Derna and a lecture was given by one of its fighters on the ‘importance of the Caliphate’.
The initial leader of Ansar Al-Sharia in Nawfaliyah, Ghedan Saleh Al-Nawfali reportedly refused to give his oath of allegiance to ISIS, and has announced that he has left the group (Ansar Al-Sharia).
On the other hand other elements of Ansar Al-Sharia in Nawfaliyah did not just facilitate the logistical support for ISIS to enter Nawfaliyah, they also gave their pledge of allegiance publicly in the city. It was not a secret that mainly elements from Ansar Al-Sharia in Sirte had given pledge of allegiance to the ‘Islamic State’ quite a while ago, but this is the first time we see disputes arising due to this issue.
The ‘Islamic State’ in Libya and elements of Ansar Al-Sharia in Libya had long been cooperating, both in the city of Benghazi in fighting against Haftar but also in Derna. Although the ‘Islamic State’ was pressuring especially those Ansar Al-Sharia elements that were sympathetic towards the ‘Islamic State’ to join the ranks of IS, this is the first time that we have seen demands being made from the ‘Islamic State’ and it is clear that the pressure is growing on especially those Ansar Al-Sharia elements that perhaps don’t want to join the ‘Islamic State’, and therefore we might see incidents like these where even top members like Ghedan Saleh defecting from Ansar Al-Sharia.
Other reports are also coming from the city of clashes between the ‘Islamic State’ and forces belonging to the Sunrise Military Operation (allied to Dawn Militia), although no confirmation of these clashes and conflicting reports on the casualties.
The ‘Islamic State’ also released a video from Nawfaliyah, by a media outlet called “Al-Bashaer Media”…an outlet that 2 weeks ago published videos from a protest with black flags and banners, this could well again imply that this is/was a stronghold of Ansar Al-Sharia: