Jawhar Farhat

3.0  The 444th Infantry Brigade

Commander: Mahmoud Hamza
Ministry Affiliation: The Government of National Unity’s defence ministry
Headquarters: Al-Takbali camp, south of the capital, Tripoli

3.1 History and Disposition

The 444th brigade, founded by Colonel Mahmoud Hamza, a notable commander of the Special Deterrence Battalion, fractured and created the 20:20 Battalion. In 2021, the Chief of Staff under the National Unity Government authorized the establishment of the “444th Combat Brigade,” functioning under the Ministry of Defense.

It broadened its influence in neighborhoods southwest of the capital, including Ain Zara, Al-Farnaj, Salah al-Din, and Qasr Bin Ghashir, by controlling key camps, notably the Yarmouk camp and Tripoli Military District headquarters.

Control also extends beyond Tripoli itself to Tarhuna and Bani Walid, Mount Nafusa, and to Al-Shuwayrif. This large region gives the 444th an opportunity to extend its influence and compete for legitimacy with the RADA by making a show of combating illegal immigration and organised crime.

Compared to other armed groups in Tripoli, the 444th is more organised and includes former soldiers from the Gaddafi regime.

3.2 Activities

The 444th often publicises its efforts to combat smuggling and other crimes to position itself as a credible law enforcement authority. Examples include:

  • On 31 January 2024, the 444th Brigade, south of the city of Mizda, arrested alleged smugglers and burned their car.
  • On 21 January 2024, the 444th Brigade seized convoys of trucks carrying smuggled fuel that were heading outside the country.
  • On 15 January 2024, the 444th Brigade raided a house and arrested two smugglers. They allegedly seized “3 kilograms” of hashish and a number of weapons, ammunition and hand grenades.

4.0 Public Security Service

Commander: Imed Trabelsi
Ministry Affiliation: National unity government
Headquarters: Tobacco factory, Tripoli, Libya

4.1 History and Disposition

The Public Security Service is a moniker given to the Special Operations Force, which was made up of former members of the Al-Sawaiq Brigade from Zintan, a city located far to the west of Tripoli, as well as new recruits. One of its leaders, Major Imad Trabelsi, established the “Special Operations Force” following the latter’s defeat by the Libya Dawn forces.

In July 2018, the Government of National Accord issued a decision designating its forces as the “General Security and Security Centers Service,” with Major Trabelsi serving as commander. Several regions west of Tripoli are under the authority of the security forces. They set up a headquarters in a Tobacco Factory in Ghout al-Shaal, which remains their official headquarters as of 2024.

4.2 Activities

The Public Security Service positions itself as a crime fighting agency. For instance, the agency announced a new operations centre in early 2023 to better coordinate law enforcement activities.

Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dabaiba appointed the General Security Service’s commander, Imad Trabelsi, as the government’s Minister of the Interior in November 2022. Despite this, the agency’s personnel and equipment continue to operate independently, just like other Tripoli armed forces.

5.0 The 111th Brigade Majhfal

Commander: Abdul Salam Zobi
Ministry Affiliation: National unity government
Headquarters: Camp Hamza in the Airport Road area

5.1 History and Disposition

Previously known as the 301st Infantry Battalion, The 111th is led by Abdul Salam Zobi, a civilian who took part in the effort to protect the capital against the onslaught of Haftar’s forces.

He oversaw a number of armed formations until the Ministry of Defense of the National Unity Government appointed him commander of a military brigade that unites the armed factions operating under his leadership Following his active involvement in blocking Major General Osama al-Juwaili’s forces’ intervention to support the House of Representatives’ appointment of Fathi Bashagha, the former president of the government to regain their areas of control in the capital. In August of last year, he was stationed in the southwest of the capital as a line of defence for the city.

5.2 Activities

Despite aligning itself with the Libyan military more than most of Tripoli’s armed groups, the 111th frequently announces law enforcement activity such as stopping smugglers. They are also sometimes called in as a neutral party when other armed groups clash. On 29 October 2023, the 111th Brigade deployed to the city of Gharyan south of Tripoli after clashes between gunmen connected to two other armed factions. 

6.0 Janzour Knights Battalion

Commander: Muhammad Al-Baroni
Ministry Affiliation: National unity government
Headquarters: soap factory

6.1 History and Disposition

“Janzour“ refers to an area in Western Tripoli. The Janzour Knights was founded in 2012 after its members helped topple the Gaddafi government. The group had previously taken part in Operation Libya Dawn in 2014, but it declined to help repel Haftar’s attack on Tripoli. 

In addition to Janzour itself, this battalion is tasked with policing the region that stretches from the sea shore in the north to the city of Injila in the south, and from Al-Ghiran Island in the east to the 17th Bridge in the west.

The Janzour Knights has a presence in the Palm City Resort, which is home to government ministers, members of diplomatic missions, members of the Supreme Council of State, and residents of international and international organisations.

They battalion also maintains control over a number of important installations and facilities, such as the Libyan Academy, the Academy of Marine Studies, the Environment Public Authority, the General Water Authority, and the headquarters of the United Nations mission.

6.2 Activities 

Janzour Knights affect a lot of the aesthetics of law enforcement, including conducting traffic stops and an emergency number residents can ostensibly call to receive help. Nonetheless, they are also one of the armed groups involved in the city’s numerous forced disappearances and kidnappings. They also occasionally clash with other armed groups located near their area of influence. For instance:

  • On 29 January, press reported that Janzour Knights personnel kidnapped a local activist and took him to the Special Deterrence Force prison in Mitaga.
  • On 17 February the Janzour Knights exchanged gunfire with Public Security Services personnel in western Tripoli.

7.0 The Future of Tripoli’s Armed Groups 

Tripoli’s armed groups are intricately linked to local and global dynamics. Moreover, there are indications that the intense violence witnessed in 2019-2020 may not resurface due to a tacit agreement among Russia, Turkey, and their allies within Libya.

However, this peace exists alongside a lack of motivation among Libyan factions to prioritize democratic governance. Additionally, the potential succession of influential figures like Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar could disrupt existing power dynamics but might also lead to a relatively smooth transition to new leadership.

In Tripoli, armed groups wield considerable control over governmental structures, suppressing dissent and evading accountability. Recent events, such as violent clashes between the 444th Battalion and the Special Deterrence Force, highlight the volatile situation. Furthermore, these groups assert dominance through presidential decrees, granting them powers of arrest, surveillance, and detention, thereby consolidating their grip on power.

Furthermore, eastern and western military factions increasingly constrain civil society. Reports highlight trends such as armed group encroachment into state structures, propagation of conservative ideologies, and arbitrary citizen detention. Regardless of Libya’s future, leaders must confront the power and influence of armed groups nominally under their control.


Jawhar Farhat is an ALL source analyst with a Level 6 diploma (CSMP) in Security Management and a master’s degree in Military Sciences from the Military Academy of Tunisia. With eight years of military service and a specialization in the MENA region, he is currently pursuing a Master’s in Terrorism and Security at the University of Salford.


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