Militants Find Sanctuary in Libya’s Wild South
The Washington Post published an interesting article on 13 July discussing the situation in southern Libya and how jihadists groups are increasingly finding sanctuary in this area in order to reorganize, recruit, train and potentially plot for a comeback. It provides a useful overview of the key locations where jihadists are believed to be hiding out, including the Zam Zam valley, Kufra, Sabha and Ubari.
Claudia Gazzini, the International Crisis Group’s senior Libya analyst, said IS militants were generally lying low in the desert south of the coastline, moving in small convoys so as not to attract attention or just going home. Others, she explained, were active around Sirte, staging occasional attacks against their adversaries.
Going forward, she said, IS remnants will likely try to influence and win over groups opposed to Gen. Khalifa Hifter, the Egyptian-backed commander of Libya’s national army who has been fighting militants. “We are already seeing signs that this may have already happened,” she said.
Sensing danger, Egypt has begun to closely monitor its borders with Sudan and Libya, fearing the area could turn into a major staging ground for attacks inside its territory. Egypt has said IS militants fighting its security forces in the Sinai Peninsula receive arms and fighters from Libya. It said militants behind recent deadly attacks against Christians were trained in Libya and sneaked into Egypt across the porous desert border.
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