Still no ceasefire in Sabratha

By Libya Herald reporter.

Tunis, 29 September 2017:

Sabratha remains quiet but still tense today with just occasional shots reportedly being fired in the town. Large parts are in the hands of the Anti-IS Operations Room (AIOR), which yesterday extended its control by seizing the famous Sabratha Roman ruins, a UNESCO world heritage site. There are worrying reports of damage to the ruins.

Many fighters in the opposing 48th Battalion, which includes the Amu Brigade led by Ahmed Dabashi, are reported to have been forced to withdraw, east to Sorman and west to the Mellitah Oil and Gas complex.

Meanwhile, negotiations to secure a permanent ceasefire have continued although Sabratha Media Centre, which supports the 48th Battalion, today reported that the Operations Room had again rejected a deal. Other reports, however, say that the negotiations brokered by elders from a number of Libyan towns, are focussed simply on ensuring that the 48th stays outside Sabratha.

For its part AIOR reported today that one of its members who had been wounded and in an ambulance heading to Tripoli had been seized by a new group that has entered the fray. This is the “Security and Stability Operations Room” set up on Tuesday by Abu Obeida Al-Zawi, the militant Islamist commander from Zawia. It claims to be a neutral force to ensure a cease-fire but is widely seen as reinforcements for the Amu brigade.

AIOR said that the seizure of the man, named as Ziad Turki, was proof that the new force and Amu were partners.

There continue to be numerous calls for an end to the fighting in Sabratha.

The head of the town’s military council, Taher Al-Gharbali, has again demanded the Presidency Council’s government of national accord (GNA) order a ceasefire, saying that at that point his forces would take on anyone who broke it.

Prince Idris Al-Senussi has also called on the GNA as well as UN special envoy Ghassan Salamé to take action to end the conflict in Sabratha. Humanitarian aid including medicines and food, had to be provided, roads reopened and electricity and drinking water reconnected for the 100,000 people living in the town and surrounding area, he said. These were ordinary Libyans who were suffering through no fault of their own, he said, and they needed the active support of the authorities.

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