ISIS Takes Over Sirte, Gaddafi’s Home Town In Libya | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


ISIS Takes Over Sirte, Gaddafi’s Home Town In Libya

Posted: May 21, 2015 at 1:21 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

THE Islamic State (ISIS) militants have effectively taken over former dictator, Muammar Gaddafi’s home city of Sirte as they exploit a civil war between two rival governments to expand in North Africa.

“Every night they open fire on us,” said Abu Shebar, who with comrades on Sirte’s western outskirts, holds the last position of troops belonging to one of the two warring Libyan governments, the General National Congress, which controls the capital, Tripoli, and most of the west of the country.

“They are only active at night,” he said, pointing to the militants’ position in a house just down the road blocked by sandbags.

“He sleeps in a shed next to his firing positions where used tank shells litter the ground.

Libya, which has descended into near anarchy since NATO warplanes helped rebels overthrow Gaddafi in a 2011 civil war, is now the third big stronghold for the Sunni Islamist group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, which declared a Caliphate to rule over all Muslims from territory it holds in Syria and Iraq.

ISIS fighters became a major force last year in Derna, a jihadi bastion in Libya’s east, and quickly spread to the biggest eastern city Benghazi, where they have conducted suicide bombings on streets divided among armed factions.

By occupying Sirte over the past four months they have claimed a major city in the centre of the country, astride the coastal highway that links the east and west.

They made their presence known to the world in February by kidnapping and beheading more than 20 Egyptian Coptic Christian oil workers on a beach and posting video on the Internet.