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Five Killed in Attack West of ISIS Stronghold Sirte

(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)

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Attacks carried out by ISIS militants killed five local security forces and wounded 12 at checkpoints located between Misrata and ISIS held Sirte on Thursday.  

An ISIS suicide bomber killed two local militiamen and wounded 12 at Abu Grain checkpoint west of Sirte, while another three were killed after a bombing in Baghla.

The attacks came after an eastern Libyan military faction led by General Haftar Khalifa announced their plan for an offensive against ISIS controlled Sirte.

ISIS militants seized Sirte, the hometown of ousted dictator Muammar Gaddafi, since June and have taken advantage of the ongoing conflict between Libya’s various political and armed groups. Sirte is located on the coast between the Tripoli-based unity government in the west and the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HOR) located in the east.

Martin Kobler, the head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said in an interview with Middle East Eye, that the first step in defeating ISIS is for all political factions and armed groups to form a united Libyan army.

“The fight against Daesh is something that has to be dealt with on a priority basis,” he said using an alternative name for ISIS. “The security in Libya has to be restored – a united Libyan army has to be formed because the main fight against Daesh is for the Libyans themselves.”

In a Twitter post on Thursday, Kobler stressed the importance of having a joint and coordinated effort in the fight against ISIS in Libya, “Daesh strikes again in Libya injuring a num. of Bugrein checkpoint’s security members. Joint & coordinated efforts r needed now more than ever.”

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The formation of a united Libyan army under the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) has proven to be difficult, especially due to a large number of weapons that have been dispersed among various armed groups, making a centralized authority in Libya challenging.

Kobler stated that once “Libyans have to come to grips with forming a united army” the second step in the fight against ISIS would be requesting the “assistance of foreigners” if need be.

Kobler stated that the only solution to both the IS threat and out of control migration is a unified and working Libyan unity government. But not only has the HOR failed to vote for the GNA, parallel institutions in the east have also threatened to push ahead with working independently from the rest of the country.

Kobler has repeatedly appealed to everyone who is “politically responsible” in Libya to set aside their differences and cooperate with the GNA in order for Libya to move forward as a united and stable country.

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