Libyan coalition takes on ISIL in Derna

Shura Council of Derna forces group from mosques and hotels, saying it will not be allowed to take root in eastern city.

A coalition of armed groups in the Libyan city of Derna say they have put the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group on the backfoot.

The Shura Council of Derna declared war on ISIL last week and has been engaged in clashes with the fighters for days after describing ISIL as “tyrants and criminals” and pledging not to let it take root in the city.

The Shura Council says it has succeeded in forcing ISIL from mosques and hotels it had seized in western and central parts of Derna.

Footage shared on social media showed fighters from the coalition involved in street battles with ISIL. 

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ISIL holds territory in Derna, in the east, as well as in the central city of Sirte.

The council said more than a dozen of its fighters had been wounded in the clashes.

ISIL has carried out a number of attacks against troops loyal to both the Tripoli-based and Tobruk-based governments of Libya, as well as atrocities against migrants and journalists.

In February the group beheaded a group of 21 mainly Egyptian Christian workers, who had been kidnapped in separate attacks in December and January.

Read more: ISIL video shows Christian Egyptians beheaded in Libya

ISIL fighters carried out another mass killing in April, beheading and shooting dead a group of Ethiopian migrants.

‘Dangerous moment’

For its part, the Shura Council is also involved in battling forces loyal to the military chief of the Tobruk-based government, Khalifa Haftar.

The Shura Council includes Sufian bin Qamu, a former Guantanamo Bay inmate who is considered to be close to al-Qaeda.

Anas el-Gomati, a political analyst on Libya, says the three-way conflict represents wider struggles after the Arab revolutions.

“It’s a very interesting scenario because you have the ‘locals vs nationals’ and also the ‘international-level ISIL vs different governments’,” he told Al Jazeera.

“Derna epitomises the Arab Spring at this dangerous moment.”

Source: Al Jazeera