ISIS continues to rack up victories throughout the Middle East. They have defied Western coalition efforts that push back lines of control in key areas of Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere.
Now, ISIS has found a new base for strategic control in its growing arc of influence within the void left in civil war-devastated Libya. The Libyan affiliate has most recently seized an important coastal city of Serti.
The city, which was the final defensive point for Moammar Gaddafi before being ousted from power, is among a number of cities and strongholds along the coast that lead to the country’s capital, Tripoli.
According to reports, the affiliate boasts some 3,000 fighters. Although it is a small number by many measures, the ISIS strategy is known for its fragmented guerrilla tactics designed to strike critical positions and infrastructure. ISIS has crippled large cities and strongholds with this approach.
The Libyan battlefield is a strategic ground for ISIS. It has served as a point of coordination of resources for attacks on neighboring Mediterranean nations. Both Egypt and Tunisia have seen coordinating ISIS attacks from the region.
However, the affiliate’s ability to expand faces challenges not seen in northern counterparts. The largely Sunni nation of Libyan offers far fewer radical recruits and therefore a smaller source of revenue to fund its operations.