Last updated on September 11th, 2021 at 03:06 pm
This might come as a surprise to the broader American public and a mainstream media which has largely ignored recent escalating events in Libya, but guess who’s back?
“The Donald Trump administration is seeing a “small” resurgence in the Islamic State’s numbers in Libya since strongman Khalifa Hifter began a bloody march on the capital Tripoli more than two months ago, the Pentagon’s second-ranking military official said” reports Al-Monitor’s Pentagon correspondent.
Fighters of Libyan forces allied with the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) fire a rocket at Islamic State fighters in Sirte, Libya, on August 4, 2016. Source: Reuters.
The Pentagon official, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Paul Selva, described the currently stalemated fight for Tripoli between Benghazi-based Gen. Khalifa Haftar and the UN-recognized and Turkey-backed GNA in the capital as giving breathing space for the Islamic State’s return to the country.
Russia and Turkey push for ceasefire in Libya
Within the past three years, amid the chaos in the wake of the US-NATO 2011 war which toppled Gaddafi, ISIS actually had a stronghold in the coastal city of Sirte before being booted by US-backed Libyan forces.
But now, as General Paul Selva explains: “Because they’re now going after one another in the capital, it’s actually taking their attention off of IS and we’ve seen a small resurgence of those [IS] camps in the central region.” Alarmingly, per Al-Monitor’s report, this gives an opening for ISIS to become a “third party” in the war:
US troops helping to fight IS in Libya left the country in April as security conditions deteriorated. Selva said he worried about IS becoming a “third party in the fight in Libya.”
These dire statements also follow on the heels of US ally King Abdullah of Jordan warning while attending a NATO conference in Belgium that ISIS is indeed on the rise in Libya and now sits closer than ever to Europe’s shores. He specifically identified Turkey’s efforts to transfer Syrian ‘rebel’ militants from FSA factions to Libya as potentially fueling the crisis.