(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
Libya’s Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG), who control and protect eastern Libyan oil terminals, said that its forces captured the town of Ben Jawad from ISIS militants on Monday in a battle which killed 5 and injured 18 PFG fighters.
The PFG are a militant group under the command of Ibrahim Jathran, who was a former revolutionary fighter, and while the PFG were previously allied with General Khalifa Haftar, they now support the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).
The GNA’s operations room against ISIS announced on their Facebook page that five PFG fighters had been killed and 18 wounded in heavy clashes with ISIS fighters in the coastal town of Ben Jawad and the town of Nawfiliyah.
Those wounded were sent to Ras Lanuf hospital for medical treatment.
Reuters reported that a resident from Ben Jawad said that PFG forces had entered the town and were combing the area for explosives to secure it.
Ali al-Hassi, a spokesman for the PFG said, “we launched today’s attack to purge and liberate the central region from Daesh (Islamic State), and secure this area under the umbrella of the ministry of defense and the Presidential Council, the Supreme Commander of the Libyan army.”
ISIS militants took control of Ben Jawad, which is 150 kilometres east of Sirte, in January. The PFG have clashed with ISIS militants after the extremist group attacked the Es Sider and Ras Lanuf oil terminals.
“The Islamic State’s retreat came after we besieged them and prevented them from getting supplies over the past weeks,” al-Hassi said.
The capturing of Ben Jawad in the east is a significant accomplishment for Operation Strong Foundation forces because it opens up a new front in the east to fight against ISIS. So far GNA troops have launched their offensive against ISIS from the west in Misrata, and now with the PFG’s aid in the east, ISIS forces will have a harder time defending both fronts.
General Khalifa Haftar had announced nearly a month ago that his militia would be attacking ISIS held Sirte from the east, however he has yet to do so.