Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

ISIS Likely Involved in Suicide Attack Targeting Libyan Army Post

ISIS Likely Involved in Suicide Attack Targeting Libyan Army Post

Thursday, 22 February, 2018 - 08:30
Smoke rises following an air strike as Libyan forces allied with the UN-backed government gather after they captured a new area from Islamic State militants in Sirte, Libya, October 16, 2016. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny

Three National Libya Army soldiers were killed on Wednesday in a suicide attack targeting a military checkpoint in Al Jafrah city, some 650 km southeast Tripoli.

Brigadier Ahmad al-Mesmari, spokesman for the National Army, said that the blast targeted a gate belonging to the 127th Infantry Battalion, resulting in the death of three soldiers, in addition to the injury of two others.

An officer in Jafrah’s operations room pointed out that “a suicide bomber driving a car bomb detonated a military checkpoint at the western Jafrah city entrance.”

The official did not rule out ISIS involvement in the attack.

"We do not rule out ISIS involvement in the attack, given that their left-behind militants are located between Jafrah and Sirte," around 450 kilometers east of Tripoli.

US President Donald Trump’s administration made classified calls with the Libyan parliament and the head of the Libyan National Army Marshal Khalifa Hafter, as United Nations Mission in Libya head Ghassan Salame continues his efforts to save the chance of a political solution in Libya, sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Libyan sources confirmed that a meeting was held a few days ago in one of the Arab capitals, bringing together a senior Libyan parliament official and an American delegation.

A source close to Marshal Khalifa Hafter told Asharq Al-Awsat, speaking under the condition of anonymity, that undeclared US contacts with Libyan authorities running eastern Libya are not necessarily part of a possible mediation project the US plans to lead in solving the Libyan crisis.

For his part, Salame said that he discussed with Government of National Accord Foreign Minister Mohamed Taha Siala the latest developments and results of recent meetings on Libya.

Among topics discussed was reaching consensus on implementing limited amendments to Libyan political agreement, namely the UN-sponsored Skhirat Morocco agreement concluded at the end of 2015.

Libya's eastern-based House of Representatives (parliament) and the Tripoli-based Higher Council of State had agreed on Tuesday to continue consultations to amend the UN-sponsored political agreement in preparation for a constitutional referendum and elections.

"The meeting covered some consensual proposals and formulas to enable the two councils to choose a strong executive authority that achieves a comprehensive consensus and is capable of unifying the state institutions and addressing the challenges Libya is going through in this sensitive stage," the Higher Council of State said in a statement.

"The two sides agreed to present the results of this meeting to the two councils and to continue communicating in the coming days, in order to reach consensus on amending the political agreement, leading to the formation of a unified and effective executive authority," it added.

The parliament approved a compromise formula proposed by Salame last year on amendments to the agreement. However, the Higher Council of State rejected it.

The amendments, mainly related to executive authority, are part of an action plan Salame proposed in September to end the political crisis in Libya. The plan also includes holding parliamentary and presidential elections before the end of 2018.

Libya is suffering a political division between the eastern government based in Tobruk and the western government based in Tripoli backed by the UN.

Editor Picks