Libyan Army Kills 19 ISIS Militants

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On Thursday, Major General Khaled Al-Mahjoub, Director of the Libyan National Army’s (LNA) Moral Guidance Department announced the end of military operations near the Al-Qatrun area in southwestern Libya.

He added that 19 IS militants, four of whom detonated explosive vests, were killed during the clashes against Libyan National Army forces, in the Asida and Haruj areas.

In a statement, the Libyan Interior Ministry said that the militants killed three Libyan security personnel near the Jabal Asida area, west of Al-Qatrun. The attack, some 700 kilometers (430 miles) south of Tripoli, “targeted a patrol of the Umm Al-Aranib Martyrs’ Brigade, killing three of its members,” the ministry stated.

It added that Libyan government forces had killed four militants, and destroyed their vehicle. A search is underway for other “terrorists” who had fled. The ministry said that the IS-affiliated groups that have appeared in the southwest of the country are seeking to destabilise the security situation, and intimidate residents.

On Monday, IS forces claimed an attack on the same brigade, in the same area a week earlier, killing two members.

The Umm Al-Aranib Martyrs’ Brigade is largely made up of members of the long-marginalized Tebu ethnic group.

A political crisis in the wake of Libyan Muammer Gaddafi’s overthrow saw the oil-rich country split between rival authorities in the east and west, and the disintegration of security apparatuses. This created fertile ground for jihadist groups like IS to take root.

A myriad of armed groups and human traffickers have taken advantage of the chaos to gain a foothold in the North African country.