Skip to main content

Chronology 2011

Image removed.

Libya’s uprising began on Feb. 15-16, 2011 after a small civil protest to demand freedom for human rights lawyer Fethi Tarbel in eastern Benghazi. The protest – in a city a long political rival of Tripoli – soon grew into a larger armed movement targeting the regime of Colonel Moammar Qaddafi, who had been in power since a 1969 military coup.

But the rebels were inexperienced and disorganized. After Qaddafi’s forces pushed back the opposition, the U.N. Security Council authorized a no-fly zone over Libyan airspace on March 17. NATO airstrikes were launched two days later, allowing disparate rebel militias to gain territory in key cities. Over the next seven months, anti-Qaddafi forces fought to take Qaddafi strongholds. Qaddafi was captured and killed on Oct. 20.

Feb. 15– 16: In Benghazi, a small rally demanded the release of a human-rights lawyer and condemned a prison massacre. The civil protest grew into a large anti-Qaddafi demonstration, which police and government forcibly tried to quash.

Feb. 17 – 25: Hundreds were killed in protests in several cities.

Feb. 20: Justice Minister Mustafa Abdel Jalil and Interior Minister Abdel Fattah Younes defected to join the protesters.

Feb. 21: Most of the diplomats in Libya’s mission to the United Nations resigned, called for Qaddafi’s resignation, and asked the U.N. to impose a no-fly zone over Libya.

Feb. 19 – 22: Rebels battled with Qaddafi’s forces at al Baida airport, eventually taking it over.

Feb. 22: The Arab League suspended Libya’s membership.

Feb. 24 – May: Government forces battled rebels for control of Misrata, an oil-rich town close to Tripoli.

Feb. 25: The U.S. closed its embassy in Tripoli and imposed unilateral sanctions against Libya, freezing $30 billion in government assets.

Feb. 26: The U.N. imposed sanctions on Libya and then referred Qaddafi to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Feb. 27: Benghazi residents announced creation of the interim Transitional National Council (TNC).

Feb. 28: The EU adopts sanctioned, embargoed arms sales, froze assets and banned visas for senior Libyan officials.

March 3: Obama called on Qaddafi to step down, saying his regime has “lost the legitimacy to lead.” The National Libyan Council announced that it will have 30 members and be chaired by Mustafa Abdel Jalil, Qaddafi’s former justice minister.

March 12: The Arab League asked the U.N. Security Council to declare a no-fly zone.

March 17: The U.N. voted in favor of “all necessary measures short of an occupation force,” to protect Libyan civilians, effectively sanctioning a no-fly zone. Five members abstained, including China, Russia and Germany.

March 19-21: NATO launched air strikes. On March 21, NATO strikes destroyed a building in Qaddafi’s compound, though representatives deny the leader was targeted.

March 27: Rebels recaptured oil towns Ras Lanuf and Bin Jawad. International airstrikes targeted Sirte, Qaddafi’s hometown.

April 16:  Rebels published a draft constitution.

May 15: The ICC issued arrest warrants for Qaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and intelligence chief Abdullah Senussi.

May 28: TNC members said they will not seek political office after Qaddafi’s fall.

May 30: “Free Libya,” a rebel-run television station, began broadcasting. The first big post-crackdown protest against Qaddafi’s rule took place in Tripoli.

June 1: NATO voted to continue the Libya mission until September.

June 6: Rebels captured Yafran, west of Tripoli.

June 27: Battles began in the rebel-controlled Nafusa Mountains, ending a period of relative peace in the west.

July 6: Rebels launched a two-pronged offensive against government forces from Misrata and the mountains southwest of Tripoli. Rebels seized al Qawalish and Kikla, 60 miles southwest of the capital.

July 15: The U.S. and the international contact group recognized the NTC as the “legitimate authority” in Libya.

July 28: Abdel Fattah Younes, the rebels’ chief of staff, was killed, apparently by rebel troops.

Aug. 7: Rebels took control of Bir al Ghanam, 50 miles south of Tripoli.

Aug. 8: The TNC dissolved its cabinet as a result of Younes’ murder.

Aug. 18: The TNC released a draft constitution for post-Qaddafi Libya. The rebels took control of Zawiyah, 30 miles west of Tripoli.

Aug. 20: Rebels took control of Brega.

Aug. 22: Rebels took Tripoli, encountering little resistance. Qaddafi broadcasted a call for help.

Aug. 23: Opposition fighters invaded Qaddafi’s military compound at Bab al Azizia.

Aug. 24: Rebels began battling in Sabha and Zuwarah, two Qaddafi strongholds in the south and west.

Aug. 25: The U.N. announced the release of $1.5 billion in frozen assets for the rebels.

Aug. 26: The NTC gave its first press conference from Tripoli, saying it will move its headquarters from Benghazi to the capital.

Sept. 9: NTC Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril arrived in Tripoli for the first time.

Sept. 9 – Oct 17: The rebels fought to take control of Qaddafi stronghold Bani Walid.

Sept. 15 – Oct 20: Rebel troops engaged in heavy fighting and finally captured Sirte, Qaddafi’s hometown.

Sept. 16: The U.N. accepted the NTC as Libya’s representative and removed some sanctions.

Sept. 18: Mustafa Abdul Jalil, chairman of the NTC, failed to form a transitional cabinet due to internal divisions between the NTC and rebel commanders. They delayed announcing a new government “indefinitely.”

Sept. 20: Obama met with Jalil at the U.N.  Jalil addressed the General Assembly.

Sept. 22: Rebel forces gained control of Sabha, Jufra, and oasis towns Sokna, Waddan, and Houn. Rebels found radioactive material in Sabha, later confirmed by the IAEA.

Oct. 3: The NTC announced that it will disband and begin the elections process once Sirte is taken. Mahmoud Jibril was named interim prime minister.

Oct. 14: Battles erupted in residential Tripoli neighborhoods with hundreds of militiamen participating.

Oct. 20: Qaddafi was captured as he tried to flee Sirte and was quickly killed by rebels, who documented the event with cell phones. His son Mutassim was also captured and killed in unclear circumstances. Both bodies were displayed in a refrigerated meat store in Misrata for Libyans to see.

Oct. 23: Large celebrations were held in Benghazi as Mustafa Abdel Jalil announced that Libya was liberated. In a press conference, Jalil said that Sharia law would be the “main source” for legislation.

Oct. 31: NATO ended its mission in Libya, calling it a “successful chapter.” The NTC elected Abdurraheem el Keib, a dual U.S.-Libya citizen, as interim prime minister by placing votes in a transparent box.

November – June 2012: Battles between rival militias and tribes broke out in Tripoli and across Libya; the new army and NTC members were forced to intervene to restore peace.

Nov. 17: In Benghazi, the Muslim Brotherhood held its first public conference after being banned for decades.

Nov. 19: Saif al Islam, Qaddafi’s son and heir apparent, was captured.

Nov. 22: Interim Prime Minister el Keib appointed a new cabinet; the new defense minister was commander of the unit that captured Saif al Islam.

Dec. 9 -13: The First National Congress for Libyan Reconciliation and Reconstruction was held in Tripoli.

Dec. 12: Hundreds rallied in Benghazi calling for Jalil to step down. In response, the NTC named Benghazi the “economic capital” of Libya.

Dec. 13: Protesters set up a tent city in Tripoli to demand membership and voting transparency from the NTC.


After the eight-month uprising, the interim government struggled to regain control. Battles erupted frequently among rival militias. The most hopeful development was a democratic election for the General National Congress, which took control on Aug. 8, 2012.

But the new government’s authority was increasingly undermined by armed groups. In September 2012, Salafis destroyed several Sufi shrines and took over mosques in several cities. On September 11, Islamic militants attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, killing Ambassador Chris Stevens, three members of his staff and 10 Libyan security guards.

Feb 20: Misrata held local council elections, independent of the NTC.

March 6: Despite protests against them, leaders of eastern oil-rich Cyrenaica, including Benghazi, declared the province to be semi-autonomous.

March 7: Jalil vowed to use force if necessary to prevent Cyrenaica from becoming autonomous.

March 17: Abdullah al Senussi, former intelligence chief, was arrested at the airport in Nouakchott, Mauritania.

April 20: The NTC took control of Tripoli’s airport from a Zintan militia.

May 14: Islamist Abdel Hakim Belhadj, head of the powerful Tripoli Military Council militia, stepped down to set up the Watan political party.

July 1: Protesters stormed Benghazi’s election headquarters and burned ballots after the eastern third of Libya was denied its request for one-third of assembly seats.

July 7: Elections for a new 200-member national assembly, known as the General National Congress (GNC), were generally peaceful.

July 17: Election results showed Mahmoud Jibril’s National Forces Alliance won 39 out of 80 Assembly seats reserved for parties. The Muslim Brotherhood won 17 seats. Women captured 33 seats.

Aug. 8: The NTC formally ceded power to the newly elected assembly.

Aug. 9: The assembly chose former opposition leader Mohammed Magarief as its president.

Aug. 19: Two car bombs exploded in Tripoli. Security forces disarmed two other bombs and arrested several suspects.

Sept. 5: Qaddafi’s intelligence chief was extradited to Libya by Mauritania so that he could be put on trial for murder and war crimes.

Sept. 7: Salafists attempted to destroy a Sufi shrine in Rajma leaving three local residents dead.

Sept. 11: Heavily-armed Islamic militants attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, killing Ambassador Chris Stevens, three members of his staff and ten Libyan security guards. Demonstrators stormed the consulate in protest of an anti-Islam film.

Sept. 12-14: Libyans protested the killing of American diplomatic staff in major Libyan cities. Libyan officials blamed al Qaeda-linked militants for the attack.

Sept. 22: Political and military leaders negotiated a deal to bring all Benghazi militias under control of the National Army.

Sept. 23: Crowds of Benghazi residents forced militias to leave the city and authorities gave groups two days to vacate military bases.

Oct. 15: Secular politician Ali Zeidan was elected prime minister, beating the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammad Harari.


Armed groups continued to undermine the government’s authority. In August 2013, federalist leader Ibrahim Jathran and his allies blockaded four oil terminals, demanding greater autonomy for the east. The closures lasted nearly a year and cost the Libyan government billions of dollars in oil revenue.

March 29: Salafi militants blew up a Sufi shrine in Tripoli.

May 5: Islamist politicians passed the controversial Political Isolation Law, which banned Qaddafi-era officials from politics for ten years.

August: Federalist leader Ibrahim Jathran and his allies seized four key oil terminals, demanding greater regional autonomy in the east. Their blockade lasted nearly a year and cost the Libyan government billions of dollars in oil revenue.

Oct. 10: Gunmen from the government-funded Libya Revolutionaries Operation Room militia briefly kidnapped Prime Minister Ali Zeidan.


In 2014, Libya experienced its worst wave of violence since the 2011 uprising. Clashes between Islamist and secular militias escalated across the country. Libya’s June 2014 election marked a key turning point. After secular politicians beat Islamists in the polls, a coalition of Islamist militias known as Libya Dawn drove the elected government out of Tripoli. Libya Dawn then supported creation of a rival government under Omar al Hassi, a former member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.

Hardline Islamist militias in the east — who have steadily increased their numbers and weaponry since the 2011 uprising – faced a challenge from a secular militia led by Gen. Khalifa Heftar, a renegade officer from the Libyan military. In July 2014, a coalition of Islamist militias – including Ansar al Sharia – defeated Gen. Heftar’s forces and declared Benghazi and Islamic caliphate. Gen. Heftar continued to try to contest Benghazi, launching a new offensive in October.

The appearance of Islamic State affiliates further complicated the range of militias in 2014. In Derna, an eastern city with a strong jihadist history since the 1980s, a group of fighters returning from Syria formed the Shura Council of Islamic Youth. In October, the group formally declared allegiance to ISIS – also known as the Islamic State, ISIL, or Daesh.

Feb. 3: Islamists in the GNC extended the assembly’s mandate beyond February 7. Secular militias from Zintan threatened to attack Tripoli in response.

March 8-10: Jathran’s forces defied the GNC and tried to export oil in the east. The GNC attempted to liberate oil terminals by force, leading to clashes in Sirte and the Zillah oil field.

March 11: Zeidan was ousted as prime minister after failing to resolve the oil crisis.

March 16: U.S. naval forces seized Jathran’s oil tanker and returned it to the Libyan government.

Early April: The government reached an agreement with Jathran over the oil crisis. Two terminals reopened immediately, and the other two reopened in July.

May 4: GNC Islamists elected Ahmed Maetig as prime minister. Secular politicians declared the vote invalid for not following correct parliamentary procedure.

May 16: Renegade General Heftar launched “Operation Dignity” against Ansar al Sharia, a hardline Islamist militia, in Benghazi. Heftar later expanded his attack to all Islamists, including the Muslim Brotherhood.

June 9: Libya’s Supreme Constitutional Court rejected Maetig’s appointment. He then stepped down.

June 25: Libya held parliamentary elections to replace the GNC. Only 630,000 people voted, and many polling stations closed due to violence. The Brotherhood picked up only 25 seats.

July 30: Ansar al Sharia declared Benghazi an Islamic caliphate after capturing strategic areas of the city from Gen. Heftar’s forces.

August: Libya Dawn, a coalition dominated by Islamist militias from Misrata, captured Tripoli after a 5-week battle with secular militias. Libya Dawn refused to recognize the newly elected government, dominated by secular politicians, and forced it to flee to Tobruk.

Aug. 22: U.S. officials claimed that Egypt and the United Arab Emirates conducted airstrikes on Islamists in Tripoli. Egypt denied involvement, and the UAE refused to comment.

Aug. 25: Islamist members of the GNC established a rival parliament in Tripoli, backed by Islamist militias. They elected Omar al Hassi as their leader.

October: Gen. Heftar launched a new offensive against Benghazi’s Islamists and recaptured a key military base from Ansar al Sharia.

Oct. 19: The elected government in Tobruk, known as the House of Representatives (HoR), officially allied with Gen. Heftar and supported his attack on Islamists in Benghazi.

Oct. 21: Al Hassi met with Turkish diplomats. Turkey and Qatar both supported the Islamist government in Tripoli.

Nov. 6: Libya’s Supreme Court declared the elected government in Tobruk illegal. Officials in Tobruk claimed the court was coerced into the decision by Islamist militias.

Nov. 12: The U.N. special envoy to Libya met with the head of the Tripoli parliament for the first time.

Nov. 13: Bombs exploded near the Egyptian and United Arab Emirates embassies in Tripoli. Both had allegedly conducted airstrikes on Islamists in Tripoli in August.

Nov. 19: ISIS-linked militants gained control of Derna, a port city of 100,000 people in eastern Libya.

Nov. 20: The U.N. Security Council blacklisted two branches of Ansar al Sharia in Libya.


By 2015, Libya’s armed groups had sidelined politicians and driven the country to the brink of civil war. ISIS affiliates – which continued to gain ground - conducted a series of deadly attacks on foreigners. After ISIS executed 21 Egyptian Christians in February, Egypt launched airstrikes against ISIS targets in Libya. But ISIS attacks continued, and militants killed 30 Ethiopian Christians in April. 

U.N.-brokered peace talks among Libya’s factions began in January 2015 and continued through August. Diplomatic efforts stalled, as parties resisted meaningful power-sharing and the option of a national unity government. But by March 2016, the Tripoli government had ceded authority to the unity government led by Fayez al Sarraj.

Jan. 8: The U.N. special envoy to Libya met with factions in Tobruk and Tripoli, including Gen. Heftar.  

Jan. 14: U.N.-brokered peace talks on Libya began in Geneva.

Jan. 21: The Tripoli government suspended the talks, accusing the Tobruk government of violence.

Jan. 26: Leader of Ansar al Sharia in Libya, Mohamed al Zahawi, reportedly died while fighting pro-government forces.

Jan. 27: Gunmen stormed the luxury Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli, killing 10 people, including five foreigners. ISIS-linked militants claimed responsibility.

Feb. 9: Forces loyal to the Tobruk government retook the main military base in Benghazi from Islamist fighters.

Feb. 17: ISIS beheaded 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya. Egyptian President Abdul Fattah el Sisi decided to strike ISIS targets in eastern Libya in response. 

Feb. 20: ISIS-linked militants detonated three car bombs, killing at least 38 people, in apparent retaliation for Egyptian airstrikes.

March 5: Libyan factions held U.N.-backed peace talks in Morocco.

April 1: The Islamist parliament in Tripoli dismissed al Hassi as prime minister. Al Hassi rejected the dismissal.

April 13: ISIS claimed responsibility for twin attacks on the Moroccan and South Korean Embassies in Tripoli, killing two local police officers and injuring another.

April 20: ISIS killed 30 Ethiopian Christians in southern and eastern Libya.

May 12: Forces loyal to the Tobruk government shelled a Turkish cargo ship off the coast of Tobruk. Turkey had supported the Islamist government in Tripoli.

May 21: ISIS-linked militants took over the city of Sirte.

June 1: ISIS expanded its territory to the east, south, and west of Sirte, forcing Misratan militias to retreat.

June 3: Senior officials from the United Kingdom, Italy and the European Union met the foreign minister of Libya’s internationally recognized government, Mohamed Dayri, to reach agreement on the formation of a national unity government.

June 10: Libya's internationally recognized government dropped out of U.N.-backed peace talks, refusing a plan to share power with rivals.

June 10-11: Gunmen killed a senior al Qaeda official, Nasser Akr. Al Qaeda-linked militants declared war on ISIS affiliates in Libya. Nine ISIS militants were killed and two Shura Council members, including a top commander called Salem Derbi.

June 14: A U.S. strike allegedly killed Algerian Islamist Mokhtar Belmokhtar in Libya. But Ansar al Sharia denied the claim. 

July 11: Libyan factions reached a U.N.-brokered peace deal without the Islamist government in Tripoli. 

December 17: GNC and HoR representatives signed a U.N.-backed deal to form a unity government, despite lacking formal approval from either government. A nine-member presidential council, led by Fayez al Sarraj, was tasked with appointing a cabinet. But progress stalled over the next few months.


Campaigns against Islamist movements continued in eastern Benghazi and central Sirte. General Heftar and his Libyan National Army (LNA) clashed with Benghazi Defense Brigade fighters and ISIS militants in the east. Libyan forces ousted the Islamic State from its last stronghold in Sirte at the end of the year.  

Feb. 19: American warplanes reportedly bombed a training camp in Sabratha in an attempt to kill a Tunisian militant commander associated with planning attacks on Western tourists in Tunisia in 2015. At least 43 were reportedly killed in the airstrikes, including two Serbian hostages.

Feb. 22: Libya Armed Forces Media released footage showing Libyan troops attacking ISIS on the ground in Benghazi.

March 4: Two Italian hostages were freed from ISIS captivity in Libya. Italian officials said that two others were thought to be dead. 

March 10: A senior ISIS militant, Abdul Qadr al Najdi, said that he is the new Islamic State leader in Libya and that the group is getting “stronger every day.”

March 13: The United States and several European countries recognized the unity government, known as the Government of National Accord (GNA) as Libya's legitimate government.

March 30: Prime Minister Fayez al Serraj, head of the UN-backed Unity Government, and members of the presidency council arrived from Tunisia by boat at a naval base in Tripoli.

March 31: Libya’s unity government started work from a ‘secured’ Tripoli naval base. 

April 2: Two guards died in an attempted attack on an oil field in eastern Libya. ISIS was suspected in the attack.

April 5: Tripoli’s self-declared National Salvation government said it is stepping down after only a week in the Libyan capital.

April 8: French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault ruled out launching airstrikes or sending troops on the ground to combat ISIS in Libya. He, however, said that France could help secure the U.N.-brokered national unity government in Tripoli.

April 10: Staff were evacuated from three oil fields in eastern Libya due to fear of attacks by ISIS militants.

April 13: ISIS militants killed six security force members in a suicide bombing and attacks on a military camp in western Libya.

April 15: Two ISIS suicide bombers staged attacks near a cement factory in Benghazi resulting in six deaths and 25 injuries.

April 16: A hospital source said at least 15 members of the security forces were killed and 40 were wounded from two days of clashes in Benghazi with ISIS.

April 18: Libyan forces recaptured key areas in Benghazi from Islamist militants and other opposition forces.

April 20: ISIS fighters retreated from long-held positions around the port city of Derna.

April 21: Military forces loyal to Libya’s eastern government carried out airstrikes against ISIS fighters in Derna after they had retreated from positions close to the city.

April 23: ISIS militants and Libyan forces guarding oil ports near Brega terminal clashed, killing one guard and wounding four.

April 28: The GNA announced plans to launch an offensive against ISIS in Sirte. The unity government asked military factions to hold off from any campaign against ISIS until a unified military command structure was created.

May 5: ISIS militants attacked and killed five people between their stronghold of Sirte and the city of Misrata.

May 6: Four people were killed and at least 20 were wounded in shelling at a rally in Benghazi in support of forces allied with Libyan eastern government. No group claimed immediate responsibility.

May 11: Western Libyan forces prepared an attack on the Islamic State stronghold of Sirte after territorial gains made by the militant group last week.

May 12: A hospital spokesman said that four members of military forces loyal to the unity government were killed and 30 were wounded in a battle with ISIS near the western city of Misrata.

U.S. troops were stationed at two outposts near Misrata and Benghazi to try and enlist local support for an offensive against ISIS.

The United States gave jeeps, planes, and communications technology to Tunisia to help protect the border with Libya where the Islamic State has gained territory and set up training camps.

May 18: U.N.-backed unity government forces pushed ISIS fighters back toward Sirte but lost more than 30 men. A car bomb killed seven in the fight.

May 20: Leader of eastern-backed forces General Khalifa Heftar said he will not work with the unity government until militias aligned to it were disbanded.

May 29: Forces loyal to the U.N.-backed unity government said they aimed to encircle Sirte.

May 31: Libyan security forces captured a second town from the Islamic State, pushing the militant group away from positions near major oil terminals and toward its stronghold of Sirte.

May-June: Both pro- and anti-GNA armed factions advanced on Sirte and began capturing territory from ISIS.

June 1: Libyan brigades lost 10 men and reported 40 injuries in fighting near Sirte.

June 3: The unity government prime minister said that Libya was working with various armed factions and would be able to defeat Islamic State militants themselves.

June 4: Libyan brigades captured an air base from ISIS in south Sirte.

June 11: Libyan forces said they have taken control over the port of Sirte, marking a major gain in their battle to recapture Sirte from the Islamic State.

June 12: A suicide bomber killed three people at a Libyan forces’ field hospital in Sirte.

June 24: Four Libyan troops and 10 militants died in fighting between Libyan forces and the Islamic State in Sirte.

July 7: A car bomb in Benghazi killed 12 Libyan troops.

July 12: Libyan forces laid siege on ISIS in Sirte with shelling and airstrikes.

July 15: Libyan forces suffered losses in battle to recapture Sirte.

July 20: French Defense Minister Jean Yves Le Drian confirmed French Special Forces’ presence in Libya.

French President Francois Hollande said three French soldiers were killed in a helicopter accident on an intelligence gathering mission in Libya.

July 22: Libyan forces reported gains against ISIS in battle for city of Sirte.

Aug. 1: The United States launched airstrikes in support of the operation to retake Sirte. It was the first U.S. intervention conducted in collaboration with the unity government.

Aug. 2:  A car bomb targeting security forces in the east Libyan city Benghazi killed at least 22 people and wounded 20.

Aug. 11: Libyan forces renewed fighting against Islamic State in Sirte and captured a large convention center from the group.

Aug. 16: Libyan forces seized one of the last districts in central Sirte from the Islamic State in their battle to recapture the entire city.

Aug. 18: ISIS carried out suicide bombings against Libyan forces in Sirte killing at least 12 fighters and wounding around 60.

Aug. 21: Libyan forces said they seized the main mosque and jail from ISIS in Sirte. At least nine fighters died and 85 were injured from the battle.

Aug. 22: The House of Representatives voted to reject the GNA, with 60 votes against, one in favor, and 40 abstaining. The GNA responded by promising to submit a revised cabinet.

Aug. 29: Libyan forces captured a residential neighborhood from ISIS in central Sirte, leaving only one district to be recovered.  

Sept. 3: Fighting against the Islamic State resumed and Libyan forces advanced against some ISIS holdouts in Sirte.

Sept. 6: Tunisia’s defense minister said Norther African countries should be cooperating more to stop ISIS. Tunisia feared Islamic State fighters fleeing their stronghold in Sirte were returning to their homelands and causing trouble.

Sept. 8: Two car bombs exploded near Tripoli’s foreign ministry and a naval base. No one was injured. No group claimed immediate responsibility.

Sept. 11: Eastern-backed forces seized at least two oil ports from pro-government forces.

Sept. 18: Libyan forces renewed their fight against the Islamic State in Sirte.

Sept. 20: Airstrikes in central Libya killed at least nine civilians. The identity of the responsible war plane was not confirmed but thought to be from one of the two rival factions operating in the area.

Sept. 22: Libyan forces prevented three attempted car bombings by ISIS in Sirte. Fighting between the two sides killed nine Libyan fighters and wounded more than 40. Forces recovered 10 bodies of ISIS fighters.

The prime minister of Libya’s U.N.-backed government said he was open to talks with eastern Libyan commander Khalifa Heftar.

Oct. 2: Libyan forces repelled an attempted ambush by ISIS militants in their former stronghold of Sirte. Libyan forces lost at least eight men in the attack.

Oct. 4: Shelling in residential area of Benghazi killed at least three civilians and injured 12. A spokesman for Khalifa Heftar’s forces saod the shelling came from a position occupied by “terrorist groups”.

Oct. 12: Libyan forces pushed into last Islamic State area in Sirte.

Oct. 15: Libyan forces advanced into another area in their battle against ISIS in Sirte. 14 troops were killed in the fighting.  

A Libyan rival faction to the U.N.-backed GNA seized a building used by parliament in Tripoli and proclaimed its own authority and demanded a new government.

Oct. 16: Libyan forces recaptured Cambo area in the city of Sirte.

Oct. 15-Oct. 17: The U.S. conducted more than 30 airstrikes against ISIS in Sirte, backing pro-government forces in the battle to push into the last militant’s stronghold.

Oct. 20: Libyan forces freed five foreign captives held by ISIS in Sirte.

Oct. 22: Libyan forces freed 13 foreign captives held by ISIS in Sirte.

Oct. 27-28: Ten bodies showing signs of torture were found in a suburb of Benghazi. No group immediately claimed responsibility.

Oct. 29: A car blast killed four and wounded at least 14 in a central district of Benghazi late Saturday.  No group immediately claimed responsibility.

Nov. 6: Libyan forces freed 14 civilians from a small residential area where the Islamic State was holding out in Sirte.

Nov. 7: The Pentagon said it is ready to resume airstrikes against the Islamic State militants in Sirte if requested by the GNA.

Nov. 15: A local Libyan official said an airstrike targeting Islamist militants killed at least seven people near the southwestern city of Sabha. Gunmen seized the remains of the suspected militants from the morgue. It was unclear who carried out the airstrike and if the militants were linked to ISIS or al Qaeda.

Nov. 16: A hospital official said at least 20 members of the LNA were killed and 40 were injured from two days of fighting in city of Benghazi.

Nov. 17: East Libyan army claimed control of one of the last holdouts of Islamist-led militias in Benghazi. The clashes killed 18 troops.

Nov. 21: A blast in Benghazi killed three children and wounded 20. Initial investigations suggested it was caused by projectiles that were fired from nearby. No group immediately claimed responsibility.

Nov. 22: Libyan forces advanced on ISIS in Sirte and urged civilians to leave the area.

Nov. 23: Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi confirmed U.S. surveillance drones were flying over the Tunisian-Libyan border in order to monitor attacks by the Islamic State.

Nov. 24: Libyan forces captured 25 houses and a stash of arms as they resumed their advance against Islamic State militants in their former stronghold of Sirte.

Nov. 29: East-backed Libyan commander Khalifa Heftar visited Russia to meet with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in order to ask for Moscow’s help in his fight against Islamist militants in Libya.

Dec. 1: Rival armed groups exchanged fire in a tense battle in Tripoli.

Dec. 2: Rival armed factions battled for a second day in the worst outbreak of fighting that the capital Tripoli has seen in more than a year.

Dec. 6: Libyan forces backed by U.S. airstrikes drove ISIS from its last stronghold in the Ghiza Bahriya district of Sirte.

Dec. 7: Armed groups took control of Ben Jawad, a town located near some of Libya’s major eastern oil ports.

Eastern Libyan forces disrupted an attempted advance by its rival faction on some of Libya’s major oil ports. Eastern forces said they hit the rival group with airstrikes and captured some of its commanders, forcing the group’s withdrawal from the town of Ben Jawad.

Dec. 18: A suicide bomber killed at least seven and wounded eight in an attack on eastern-backed Libyan forces in Benghazi. ISIS claimed responsibility.

Dec. 23: A plane traveling from Libya to Malta was hijacked by two men armed with a grenade and pistols. The two men freed all the hostages unharmed and surrendered after declaring their loyalty to Libya’s former and now deceased leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Dec. 26: Eastern-backed LNA forces launched an airstrike against a Benghazi Defense Brigades camp in central Jufra region.


Security remained a key issue in 2017. Lacking a political solution, General Heftar continued his campaign against Islamists in Benghazi and declared victory in July, despite on-going clashes in the city. The Islamic State looked to regroup in Libya after large territorial losses in Iraq and Syria, according to defense officials.

Jan. 2: Deputy Leader of Libya’s U.N. backed government Musa al Koni resigned over the GNA’s failure to tackle urgent problems amidst the on-going conflict and political disorder.

Jan. 3: East Libyan forces carried out an airstrike against a pro-GNA military transport aircraft in the central district of Jufra. The head of the military council from the rival city of Misrata was wounded.

Jan. 5: Chad closed its border with Libya and planned to deploy troops to the area in order to prevent the influx of militant fighters fleeing the Libyan conflict.

Jan. 11: Khalifa Heftar, leader of the eastern-backed Libyan National Army, visited Russia’s only aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean and spoke with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu via video about fighting terrorism in the Middle East.

Jan. 12: Khalifa Ghwell, self-declared Prime Minister of the self-declared government that ran Tripoli until early last year, attempted to seize ministry buildings in Tripoli by force, but failed.

Jan. 17: East Libyan forces claimed control over one of the last areas of resistance held by Islamist-led rivals in Benghazi.

Jan. 19: U.S. airstrikes killed at least 80 ISIS militants in camps outside of the group’s former stronghold in Sirte.

Jan. 20: car bomb killed one and wounded 13, including former interior minister Ashour Shuwail, in city of Benghazi. The Libyan National Army’s Islamist-led rivals were suspected in the attack.

Jan. 21: A car bomb exploded close to recently re-opened Italian embassy in Tripoli killing two. It was unclear who is responsible for the attack.

Jan. 25: Eastern Libyan National Army forces claimed control of Ganfouda district in Benghazi.

Jan. 26: A counter-terrorism unit in Tripoli suspected eastern-backed rival forces were behind a car bomb attack that killed two men near the Italian embassy on January 21.  

Jan. 27: U.S. President Trump signed an executive order temporarily banning entry from nationals of Libya and six other Muslim-majority countries into the United States.

Late Jan.: Libyan forces found 90 militant bodies following reported U.S. airstrikes near the former Islamic State stronghold of Sirte. Libyan forces also arrested two suspected militants and killed four who refused to surrender.

Feb. 1: Five soldiers died from eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) airstrikes in district of Benghazi.

The LNA sent 70 soldiers to Russia for treatment. This was the first overt sign of cooperation between Russia and one of Libya’s armed factions.

Feb. 2: Four LNA soldiers died in a battle to recapture district of Benghazi from Islamist rivals.

Feb. 8: A top U.N. official said there was a growing consensus to amend the composition of the Presidency Council in Libya.

Feb. 10: Security officials said that Islamic State militants have shifted to desert valleys and inland hills southeast of Tripoli as they flee their former stronghold of Sirte. 

Feb. 16: Libya sent a request to NATO to train and develop its military to fight against terrorism and build stability.  

Feb. 20: Libya’s eastern government banned women from traveling solo for “national security reasons.”

Feb. 22: A Libyan Muslim Brotherhood member denounced General Heftar’s accusations that the Brotherhood is a terrorist organization and the greatest threat to the country. “What Haftar wants now is to exclude all Islamist groups, especially the moderate ones, and even those who currently support it, because he always acts through conspiracy theory,” said a former general supervisor for the Brotherhood.

March 4: The Islamist Benghazi Defense Brigades captured key oil ports in the eastern part of the country from Heftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA).

March 14: Heftar’s forces recaptured the Ras Lanuf, Sidra and Ben Jawad oil ports from a rival Islamist militia.

March 18: Heftar’s eastern forces captured the final holdout of its Islamist rivals southwest of Benghazi. The rival group had laid siege to a 12-block area for over a week. The LNA said 23 were killed, at least six were injured and another six were arrested in the fighting.

Late March: Defense officials said the Islamic State may move its headquarters to Libya after losing large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria.

May 8: General Heftar launched a new offensive against Islamist fighters in Benghazi. Heftar lost 15 fighters and another 55 were injured in the new operation.

May 26: Islamist militias clashed with UN-aligned armed groups in Tripoli. At least 28 people were killed and more than 120 were injured.

May 27: Al Qaeda’s affiliate Ansar al Sharia said it was formally dissolving itself. The group was responsible for the 2012 Benghazi attack that killed U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens.

May 29: Egypt said it planned to carry out airstrikes against Islamist militants in Libya that were allegedly responsible for ambushing and killing Egyptian Christians last week.

June 3: The Manchester bomber who killed 22 people at a pop concert in May met with Libyan ISIS members liked to the November 2015 Paris attacks, according to intelligence officials.

June 13: The Algerian and French foreign ministers urged a political solution in Libya to reduce the spread of terrorism and the potential spillover across its borders.

June 27: Egypt destroyed 12 vehicles loaded with arms, ammunition and explosives as they tried to cross over from Libya in airstrikes.

July 6: General Heftar declared Benghazi had been liberated from Islamists, saying the city now enters a new period of “security, peace and reconciliation.”

July 7: Fighting continued in Benghazi despite Heftar’s declaration. The LNA lost 12 men and another 35 were wounded during clashes in the eastern city.

July 25: Primer Minister Serraj and General Heftar agreed to a conditional ceasefire and to holding elections in spring 2018 during a talks in France.

July 30: Some 500 LNA-linked forces ousted an Islamist militia from Sabratha. 

Aug. 23: Islamist militants beheaded 11 people, nine LNA soldiers and two civilians, at a checkpoint in the central Jufra region.

Aug 31: A car bomb killed four of Heftar’s troops at a checkpoint in Nawfiliya town in Libya’s Oil Crescent region. The Islamic State claimed the attack.  

Sept. 4: LNA forces launched airstrikes on ISIS fighters south and east of Sirte. The Islamic State had set up checkpoint and attacked local forces in recent weeks, raising concerns that ISIS could be regrouping around its former stronghold.  

Sept. 22: The United States carried out its first drone strikes in Libya under President Trump. The six strikes killed 16 ISIS fighters and destroyed three vehicles in a desert camp south of Sirte.

Oct. 31: U.S. special forces captured Mustafa al Imam, who was reportedly involved in the 2012 Benghazi attack in which U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed.

Dec. 28: LNA forces captured the last Benghazi district controlled by Islamist fighters, according to military officials.


Jan. 15: Clashes erupted in Tripoli after a failed attempt to free militants from a prison. At least 20 people were killed, and 60 were wounded. The airport was shut down and planes were damaged in the clashes.

Mar. 24: The United States carried out its first drone strike against al Qaeda in southern Libya.

May 2: ISIS suicide bombers killed 12 people in an attack on the Libyan High National Election Commission in Tripoli.

May 8: General Heftar launched a military operation to retake the coastal city of Derna, northeast of Benghazi, from the Shura Council of Mujahideen.

Late August – Late September: In late August, the Seventh Brigade, or Kaniyat, and other armed groups from outside Tripoli assaulted the capital. They faced opposition from the Tripoli Revolutionaries’ Brigades (TRB) and the Nawasi, two of Tripoli’s largest armed groups. The TRB and Nawasi were loyal to the Government of National Accord. By late September, at least 115 people had been killed and nearly 400 were injured.

Sept. 10: Gunmen attacked the headquarters of Libya’s National Oil Company in Tripoli. The assailants took hostages and set off explosions, including at least one suicide attack. Two company staff and the three militants were killed, and 10 people were wounded. ISIS later claimed responsibility.

Nov. 30: A U.S. airstrike killed 11 suspected members of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in southwest Libya near the town of al Uwaynat. It was the third U.S. strike on AQIM since March 2018.

Dec. 25: Three suicide bombers carried out attacks on the Foreign Ministry building in Tripoli. Three people died and 21 were wounded. ISIS later claimed responsibility.


Jan. 16: LNA forces launched an offensive across southern Libya to “purge” extremists and criminal gangs and “assure security for inhabitants in the southwest from terrorists.”

April 3-present: General Heftar and his self-styled LNA launched an assault to take control of Tripoli from the U.N.-backed GNA. The LNA quickly took control of towns on the outskirts of Tripoli, but GNA-aligned militias mobilized forces from Tripoli and Misrata to hold Heftar’s forces back at the southern edge of the capital. As of early June, the fighting had killed 510 people and displaced 75,000. The National Conference, scheduled to begin on April 14, was cancelled.

May 4: ISIS militants killed nine people in an attack on an LNA training camp in the southern city of Sabha.

May 18: ISIS gunmen killed three guards at the Zella oilfield in southwest Libya. They kidnapped four other people. National Oil Corporation Chairman Mustafa Sanalla said continued instability could cause a 95 percent reduction in oil production.

July 11: Two car bombs killed four people and wounded 33 at a funeral for an LNA commander in Benghazi. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

July 17: Britain extradited Hashem Abedi, the brother of a suicide bomber who killed 22 people in an attack at a concert in Manchester, in 2017. Abedi was charged with murder, attempted murder and conspiracy to cause an explosion. Authorities said he accompanied his brother, Salman, to Libya in April 2017 to receive training from ISIS before the attack.

Sept. 19: The United States conducted a drone strike on ISIS targets in southern Libya. The Pentagon’s Africa Command said the attack killed eight ISIS militants in a compound in Murzuq, Libya. It was the first U.S. airstrike on ISIS in Libya since November 2018. 

Sept. 25: The U.S. military said it launched a second airstrike in a week on ISIS militants near the town of Murzuq in southern Libya. The attack reportedly killed 11 militants.

Sept. 27: The United States carried out its third attack since September 19 on ISIS targets in Libya’s southern desert. The Pentagon said the attack killed 17 militants conducting training operations in southwest Libya. The airstrike targeted Malik Khazmi, an ISIS recruiter from Bani Walid who had helped the terrorist organization regroup in the area.

Oct. 17: Gunmen reportedly stormed two seafront cafes in Tripoli to enforce strict Islamic laws regarding interactions between unmarried men and women. Women unaccompanied by a male relative were harassed and banished from the cafés. The identify or group affiliation of the Islamists was unknown.

Nov. 16: ISIS’s “Wilayat Barqa"  branch in Libya pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al Hashemi al Qurayshi after the death of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi in October. The group’s media outlets posted photos of 32 militants offering their support to the new leader.


Jan. 7: Forces loyal to General Khalifa Heftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) captured the coastal town of Sirte from Salafist militias allied with the Government of National Accord (GNA). The Islamists reportedly withdrew from the city and allowed Haftar’s forces to quickly take Sirte without bloodshed. “After studying the situation, our forces took a decision to withdraw outside Sirte, then await orders,” the Sirte Protection Force said in a statement. ”Our forces still retain their full capabilities and our withdrawal from Sirte is not the end.” 

Jan. 15: The Guardian reported that Turkey sent 2,000 Syrian fighters to support the U.N.-backed GNA. The mercenaries, deployed in late December and early January, were members of the Free Syrian Army, a loose coalition of Syrian opposition groups that Turkey had supported in the Syrian Civil War. They reportedly signed six-month contracts directly with the GNA and were promised Turkish nationality upon their return. 

Jan. 16: Germany announced that General Haftar had agreed to a ceasefire ahead of peace talks in Berlin. On January 8, Turkey and Russia, which had backed rival sides in the conflict, called on the parties to “declare a sustainable ceasefire, supported by the necessary measures to be taken for stabilizing the situation on the ground and normalizing daily life in Tripoli and other cities.” Haftar’s LNA had launched an offensive to take Tripoli from the GNA in April 2019, which led to a nine-month stalemate. 

Jan. 30: Forces aligned with the GNA and LNA resumed fighting in Tripoli and Misrata two weeks after their foreign backers arranged a ceasefire. 

Feb. 5: Turkey deployed Syrian militants allegedly linked to al Qaeda and ISIS to support the Government of National Accord (GNA), according to militia leaders and a war monitor. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that Turkey had deployed 4,700 Syrian mercenaries, including 130 former Islamic State or al Qaeda fighters. 

Feb. 18: The GNA pulled out of cease-fire negotiations after the LNA, headed by Khalifa Haftar, shelled Tripoli’s port. The Tripoli-based government said that it would not rejoin talks “until firm responses are taken against the attacker, and we will respond firmly to the attack in appropriate timing.” 

Mar. 27: The GNA launched “Operation Peace Storm” to repel LNA forces in the Tripoli area. GNA Prime Minister Fayez al Sarraj said that the operation was in response to recent attacks by the LNA. “We reiterated that we will respond to the continuous violations of the armistice, and we have already said, and are still saying, that we will not stand by idly. So, this is precisely what happened as orders were issued to respond forcefully to the repeated terrorist attacks on civilians,” Sarraj said. 

Apr. 30: The GNA rejected a cease-fire proposal by Haftar’s LNA during the COVID-19 epidemic. The GNA said that it would continue its “legitimate self-defense, strike threats wherever they exist and stamp out illegal armed groups.” The Tripoli government had made military gains within the past month, including recapturing the country's western coastline, after a nearly a year of deadlock with the LNA. 

May 9: The LNA fired dozens of rockets at the Mitiga International Airport in Tripoli. The LNA claimed that a section of the airport housed Turkish drones that were used by the GNA to target LNA forces. Several passenger planes were damaged in the attack. 

May 19: The LNA withdrew from Tripoli after forces allied with the GNA captured al Watiya, the LNA's only airbase near the capital. LNA spokesman Ahmed al Mismari called the move a “redistribution and repositioning in the battle fronts and disengaging from some crowded residential areas.” GNA Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha said that LNA General Haftar’s chance of controlling Libya was “effectively zero” after the pullout. 

June 4: The GNA regained full control of Tripoli after the LNA withdrew from Tripoli’s suburbs. The GNA recaptured the city’s international airport with the help of Turkish military support. The LNA had launched an offensive to take the city in April 2019.