Islamic State tightens grip on Libyan city of Sirte

Islamic State tightens grip on Libyan city of Sirte
2 min read
30 November, 2015
Sources tell al-Araby al-Jadeed Islamic State group has become entrenched in Libya even as the West steps up pressure against the militant group in Syria and Iraq.
IS took over the coastal city of Sirte in June [Twitter]
Islamic state group [IS] forces have tightened their control of the city of Sirte, which is the first city outside of Syria and Iraq to fall under IS control, The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

The New York-based daily warned world leaders currently convening in Paris that IS forces on the other side of the Mediterranean pose a direct threat to Europe and that IS will use its control of Sirte to overrun the majority of Libyan territory and turn the country into a new stronghold, according to al-Araby al-Jadeed's Washington correspondent.

IS' progress in Sirte is a sign that the number IS fighters has risen from 200 last year to a current number of over 5,000, according to the The Wall Street Journal.

A Libyan intelligence official said that IS had exploited the divided political situation in the country to set up a fledgling state next to Europe.
     Libya has had two administrations since August 2014.


Last month, IS held its first two public beheadings, killing two men accused of sorcery, according to prison inmates who knew the men and a Sirte resident who said he had witnessed the killings.

IS took over the coastal city of Sirte in June, the hometown of dictator Muammar Gaddafi who was toppled and killed in a 2011 uprising.

IS, which already controls large parts of territory in Iraq and Syria, has exploited the chaos that has spread across Libya since the revolution to make gains in the oil-rich country.

Libya has had two administrations since August 2014, when a militia alliance overran the capital and set up its own parliament in Tripoli while forcing the internationally recognised government to take refuge in Tobruk, in the east.

The UN has been brokering peace talks for a new unity government to end fighting between the army and the militias that seized Tripoli.