The United Nations-backed authorities of Libya sought on Saturday to reassure its Western supporters by distancing itself from terrorists and extremists.
Some fighters with extremist ties or who’ve been focused by United Nations sanctions have mentioned this week that they have been becoming a member of the Libyan authorities’s battle in opposition to an assault by a militia chief.
The militia chief, Gen. Khalifa Hifter, 75, has lengthy portrayed himself as commanding a battle in opposition to terrorism as he has tried to determine himself as a brand new army ruler of Libya. He has promised an finish to the mayhem of warring factions and fiefdoms that has adopted the ouster of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in the course of the Arab Spring rebellion of 2011.
However his critics say his typically indiscriminate assaults have solely ended up driving extra mainstream opponents into alliances of desperation with militants and extremists.
That debate has now taken on new urgency as a result of over the past 9 days, Normal Hifter, who loosely controls a lot of jap Libya, has begun a brand new try and take over the headquarters of the United Nations-backed authorities within the capital, Tripoli.
The federal government mentioned Saturday it “strongly denies the allegations that amongst our ranks there are fighters who belong to terrorist organizations.”
Its principal defenders have been highly effective militias primarily based within the close by cities of Zintan and Misrata that led the battle to oust Colonel Qaddafi and usually are not thought-about extremists. Militias from Misrata had beforehand performed the main function in defeating the militants of the Islamic State, also referred to as ISIS or ISIL, after that they had established a Libyan base.
However a number of fighters with extremist ties or below United Nations sanctions have additionally mentioned they’re becoming a member of the battle in opposition to Normal Hifter.
Amongst them is the warlord Salah Badi, who has beforehand allied with Islamist extremists and who’s below United Nations sanctions for undermining stability. Additionally becoming a member of the fray is Brigade Defend Benghazi, which largely absorbed an earlier coalition that included a militia below United Nations sanctions as a terrorist group.
The militia it included was Ansar al-Shariah, whose fighters performed a significant function within the assault on a United States diplomatic compound that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens in 2012.
Ziad Bellam, a brigade chief who additionally fought in opposition to Normal Hifter in Benghazi, mentioned in a web-based video final week that he was returning to the battle in Tripoli to avenge a deceased chief of Ansar al-Shariah and different comrades thought-about extremists.
Western governments have nearly universally condemned Normal Hifter’s advance on the capital, which upended United Nations efforts to barter an answer to the Libyan preventing.
However the European Union mentioned Thursday that its members “specific their concern on the involvement of terrorist and prison components within the preventing, together with people listed by the U.N. Safety Council.”
The New York Instances additionally reported on Friday about extremists and others below United Nations sanctions speeding into the battle in opposition to Normal Hifter.
In an obvious response to that report and the European Union, the federal government in Tripoli mentioned Saturday that it “was and nonetheless is preventing terrorism and searching down its remnants.”
The federal government argued on Saturday that it was Normal Hifter’s assault that had “opened the street to the reactivation of the terrorist sleeper cells which might be ready for the chance.”