Tags: Libya | unrest | groups

Jihadist Groups Stalk Divided Libya

Friday, 20 February 2015 06:30 AM

The main armed organizations in divided Libya, which has seen the rise of jihadist movements, including the Islamic State group, as lawlessness plagues the North African nation.


A diverse and well-armed alliance of militias, whose core comprises groups from third city Misrata (200 kilometers/125 miles east of Tripoli).

In summer 2014, Fajr Libya attacked militiamen from Zintan (170 km southwest of the capital) who were well established in Tripoli and managed to oust them.

The alliance also includes fighters from other towns and cities in the west, including members of the Berber minority and moderate Islamist militiamen.

It controls virtually all of Libya's coastal cities, from Misrata west to the border with Tunisia through the capital, and cities to the south including Gharyan, Nalut and Jado in the mainly Berber Nafusa mountain range.

The group has also launched an eastward offensive aimed at seizing Libya's main oil export terminals, the source of its wealth.

It advanced unchecked along the coast passing through Sirte and reaching Bin Jawad, 600 km east of Tripoli.

It has a presence in Sirte, but does not control all of the hometown of slain dictator Moamer Kadhafi which is now considered to be a jihadist stronghold.

Fajr Libya also has a presence in the south, including in its main city Sabha, and claims to control most of the country.


A paramilitary force set up by renegade General Khalifa Haftar, that includes former officers of Kadhafi's army in the east who defected in the 2011 revolt.

A handful of MiG-23 and MiG-21 warplanes and a special forces unit are the main units at Haftar's disposal.

It says it is battling "terrorism," and is supported by the country's internationally recognized government and parliament based in the east.

Forced out of second city Benghazi by Islamist fighters last July, Haftar's men withdrew farther east to cities loyal to him such Al-Baida, Al-Marj and Tobruk near the frontier with Egypt.

In October Haftar launched a counter-offensive and retook large parts of Benghazi, 1,000 km east of the capital, although he still faces Islamist resistance.

In the west, Haftar can count on the support of the powerful anti-Islamist Zintan militia and on regional tribes.

Zintanis say they form the core of the Libyan army.


The Shura Revolutionary Council in Benghazi, a coalition of Islamist and radical militias formed to counter Haftar's offensive.

It has loose ties with Fajr Libya and includes groups such as Libya Shield, the February 17 Martyrs and Rafallah al-Sahati Brigades, as well as the jihadist Ansar al-Sharia.


Ansar al-Sharia is known to be close to al-Qaida and is blacklisted by the United Nations as a terrorist organization.

In addition to Benghazi, it has a presence in Derna, and in Sirte and Sabratha in the west. Its ties with the Islamic State group are unclear, although several of its members are reported to have defected to IS.


- The country's branch of the Islamic State group has a strong presence in Derna, historically Libya's most radical Islamist city. It also has forces in Sirte and the village of Nufliyah to the south.

It has cells in Libya's vast southern desert, as well as in Tripoli, where it claimed a deadly attack on a hotel. Its Tripolitania branch posted gruesome video of the beheading of 21 Christians, most of them Copts from Egypt.

Cyrenaica Force: anti-Islamist coalition of local tribes in eastern Libya led by Ibrahim al-Jodrane. It backs a federal government and wants autonomy for the region. For a year its forces blocked oil terminals in the east, preventing the export of crude.

So far, this group has not clearly backed Haftar, but it is hostile to Fajr Libya.

© AFP 2018

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The main armed organizations in divided Libya, which has seen the rise of jihadist movements, including the Islamic State group, as lawlessness plagues the North African nation.
Libya, unrest, groups
Friday, 20 February 2015 06:30 AM
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