The corpses of Islamic State-linked foreigners killed while defending the group’s former stronghold of Sirte remain in freezers, while Libya’s authorities negotiate their fate with other governments nearly seven months after U.S.-backed Libyan troops defeated the terrorist organization in the coastal city.
U.S. and Libyan military officials had deemed Sirte, a coastal city in Libya located only a few hundred miles from the European coast, to be ISIS’s largest stronghold outside its so-called caliphate in Iraq and Syria.
In December 2016, U.S.-backed Libyan militias announced the liberation of Sirte.
Seven months later, Libya’s prosecutor general is still discussing with foreign governments the return of the bodies belonging to terrorists who traveled to the North African country to engage in jihad on behalf of ISIS, reports Reuters, citing local officials.
“Allowing the bodies to be shipped home to countries such as Tunisia, Sudan, and Egypt would be sensitive for the governments involved, wary of acknowledging how many of their citizens left to fight as jihadists in Iraq, Syria and Libya,” notes Reuters.
“Our team removed hundreds of bodies,” a member of the Misrata organized crime unit dealing with the corpses told Reuters on condition of anonymity, adding, “This is the main operation which allows us to preserve the bodies, document and photograph them and also collect DNA samples.”
Libyan authorities have moved the foreign jihadi corpses from Sirte to Misrata, located farther to the west.
Although U.S.-backed militias have pushed ISIS out its Libyan stronghold, the African country remains a jihadi breeding ground, a member of the Libyan army loyal to United Nations-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) told VICE News on condition of anonymity this year, noting that ISIS still poses a threat.
His comments echoed concerns voiced by the head of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) that ISIS is “regrouping” outside of Sirte. The U.S. has already bombed ISIS targets elsewhere in the country.
Libya descended into chaos following the U.S.-backed overthrow and execution of dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
The lack of a working central government and the ongoing chaos in the country have set the stage for ISIS or any other jihadist group to prosper.
President Donald Trump’s administration is considering expanding the U.S. military’s involvement in Libya amid concerns that Russia’s footprint in the country is growing, reported CNN.
In April, Trump told reporters he did “not see a role” for the United States in Libya beyond combating ISIS.
Col. Ahmed al-Mesmari, a spokesman for the opposition’s Libyan National Army (LNA), recently told PJ Media that former President Barack Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “abandoned the Libyan people to face these terrorists alone.”
U.S.-backed local forces have already defeated ISIS in its main Iraqi stronghold of Mosul. In Raqqa, the group’s de-facto capital in Syria, ISIS is facing mounting pressure.
Brett McGurk, the special U.S. presidential envoy for the global coalition against ISIS, recently revealed that alliance-backed local forces have cleared more than 65,000 square kilometers (25,000 square miles), or 70 percent, of the territory that the group once held in Iraq in Syria.
(First reported by Breitbart News) http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2017/07/24/report-hundreds-of-islamic-state-bodies-still-in-morgue-7-months-after-being-killed-in-libya/ (July 25, 2017)
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