TRIPOLI – Intense combats in western Libya left three militia fighters killed by Islamic State jihadists, security sources told EFE on Sunday.
The fighters were killed in a counter-attack launched by the jihadist group against downtown Sirte – the late dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s birthplace, located 450 kilometers (280 miles) to the west of the Libyan capital, Tripoli.
On Friday, members of the allied militias found 11 corpses of IS combatants in the al-Jazeera neighborhood, which gives access to the IS’ last bastion in Sirte.
This area has been the scene of fierce combat between the jihadists and the militia members, who have been vying for control of the Mediterranean port of Sirte for the past six months.
The militias in western Libya are aligned with the so-called Government of National Accord, which is backed by the United Nations Security Council.
Libya has become a failed state that has fallen victim to civil war and widespread chaos ever since the international community provided military support to the 2011 rebel uprising in Benghazi that led to the downfall of Gadaffi, who had ruled the North African country with an iron fist for 42 years.
Five years later, two rival governments – one based in Tripoli (west) and the other in Tobruk (east) – are struggling to gain control of the nation’s abundant oil resources with the help of dozens of militias that often switch their loyalties.
This anarchic setting has become a fertile breeding ground for jihadist groups such as the Libyan branch of the IS, Boko Haram or al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).