Last updated: 2 December, 2015

Timeline: IS expansion in Libya

The Islamic State group, which has already seized swathes of Iraq and Syria, has moved into Libya, a fertile ground for jihadists since dictator Moamer Kadhafi was ousted in 2011.

IS has become yet another player in the lawless North African country, where rival governments and militias are already battling for control of territory and major oil reserves.


– November 19: The US State Department says it is “concerned” by reports that radical extremists with avowed ties to IS are destabilising eastern Libya.

News reports say the eastern coastal city of Derna is emerging as a new IS stronghold and has been transformed into an “Islamic emirate”.

– December 3: The top US general in Africa, David Rodriguez, says the IS has set up training camps in eastern Libya, describing their activity as “very small and nascent”.

– December 27: A car bomb claimed by IS explodes outside the diplomatic security building in Tripoli without causing casualties.


– January 8: The Libyan branch of IS claims to have killed two Tunisian journalists — Sofiene Chourabi and Nadhir Ktari — who went missing in September.

– January 27: IS claims an attack on Tripoli’s luxury Corinthia Hotel, known for hosting foreign diplomats and Libyan officials. Nine people are killed, including an American, a French national, a South Korean and two Filipinos.

– February 15: The IS releases a video showing the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians, all but one of them Egyptians, that the jihadists say they captured in Libya in January.

– April 19: A new video shows the execution of 28 Christians originally from Ethiopia.

– June 9: The IS announces it has captured Syrte, 450 kilometres (280 miles) east of Tripoli. It already controlled the city’s airport and a nearby power plant.

– July 12: The group acknowledges it has been pushed out of Derna, but vows to return and “avenge” its fighters. The city was the scene of several weeks of fierce fighting between the jihadist group and members of the Mujahedeen Council of Derna.

– August 11: Heavy fighting erupts in Syrte, where inhabitants took up arms to fight the IS, leaving dozens of people dead.

– November 5: A chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court says IS jihadists are killing more civilians in Libya than the other warring factions. IS is blamed for 27 of 37 suicide attacks in the country this year.

– November 13: The US bombs IS leaders in Libya for the first time and says it killed Abu Nabil, an Iraqi also known as Wissam Najm Abd Zayd al-Zubaydi. He is identified by Libyan officials as the head of IS in Derna.

– November 18: Libyan foreign minister Mohamed Dayri warns his country could become a “new fief” for IS fighters, especially the region near Ajdabiya, a town located between Syrte and Benghazi that lies in the heart of a major oil-producing region.

– December 1: The group is pushing eastward from Syrte towards Ajdabiya, a move the government is trying to prevent with air strikes, a senior officer says.