Islamist fighters believed to be aligned with ISIS attacked a military checkpoint in the central Jufra region of Libya on Wednesday, killing and beheading at least 11 people at the site, including nine members of Gen. Khalifa Hafter’s Libyan National Army.
Hafter’s forces have positioned themselves as particularly hostile to all of Libya’s Islamist groups, and in areas like Jufra, far from the major coastal cities of Libya, they have limited numbers of troops and reinforcements, making them vulnerable to surprise attacks.
This area is also seen as a major hotbed for ISIS forces, as after losing the coastal city of Sirte to the US-backed “unity government,” most of ISIS’ forces fled due south, into the country’s desert areas, correctly betting that there’d be little interest in trying to pursue them.
In the long run, the value of oil-exporting cities like Sirte depends heavily on control of Jafra, a major oil-producing regions. This has been a recurring problem in war-torn Libya, as the cities have long depended on oil produced in remote desert regions to the south.