Signs grow of new Western urgency to stop Islamic State in Libya


An hour’s drive from the Libyan city of Sirte, a few dozen troops man outposts along a desert road. They are hoping the West will soon be giving them more help to fight a common enemy: Islamic State.

Armed with little more than gun-mounted pick-up trucks, they are a last line of defence against the Sunni Islamist group which controls swathes of Syria and Iraq and which has now taken advantage of chaos in the north African state to seize territory there. Sirte is its stronghold.

“They’re getting stronger because no one is fighting them,” said Misrata forces commander Mahmoud Gazwan at the Wadi Bey checkpoint, a dusty outpost serving as a mobile base for his brigade of fighters.

There are signs of a growing Western urgency to stop Islamic State (IS), and Libyan commanders say Western weapons and air strikes will make a vital difference in the coming battle against their better-armed enemy.

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