The senior ISIS commanders from Iraq and Syria have been taking refuge in Libya as they view the North African nation as a safe haven.
Ismail Shukri, the head of intelligence in the northern city of Misrata.”Some of their members, especially those with long-term importance to IS, are taking refuge here. They view Libya as a safe haven.”
The official added that the terrorist have been gathering in Sirte, which is the former hometown of former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi. It is the first city to be governed by the militant Islamist group outside of Iraq and Syria.
Shukri said. “The majority of IS fighters in Sirte are foreigners, around 70%. Most of them are Tunisians, followed by Egyptians, Sudanese and a few Algerians,” he added. “Add to that the Iraqis and the Syrians. Most of the Iraqis come from Saddam Hussein’s disbanded army.”
The commanders in Abugrein town which is 120km (75 miles) south of Misrata said that their forces, loyal to the government in Tripoli, numbered around 1,400 – less than half the estimated strength of IS.
A commander with Battalion 166, Mohammed al-Bayoudi, said, without international help, they would not be able to defeat IS.
Abugrein fighters said they did not want to see Western boots on the ground.
“We Libyans will fight. There is no need for foreign troops,” said Mr al-Bayoudi.