Daesh-linked groups move closer towards Benghazi
A fighter from the Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn) militia holds a position during clashes with forces loyal to Libya's internationally recognized government as they fight for the control of the area near the Wetia military air base. (AFP/File)
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Militants loyal to Daesh [ISIL] in Libya have made advances towards the country's largest oil terminal, according to eyewitnesses and the Libyan army.
Daesh-affiliated militants on Monday night staged a military parade in the town of Noufliya, which lies some 60km from the eastern oil port of Sidra, local residents told The Anadolu Agency.
Photos emerged on social media outlets in Libya showing 4X4 vehicles – some bearing the Daesh's trademark black flag – entering the town.
Local residents said top Daesh militants from Libya had attended the parade.
Army spokesman Ibrahim al-Mismari, for his part, told reporters that "Dawn of Libya" militiamen – who remain in de facto control of capital Tripoli – had engaged in deadly clashes with Daesh militants near the town on Sunday.
"The clashes erupted after four [Dawn of Libya] militants attacked an Daesh checkpoint near Noufliya," he said.
For over two months, Libyan troops loyal to the Tobruk-based government have laid siege to the eastern city of Darnah.
Darnah is considered a stronghold of several militias, including ones that have sworn allegiance to the Daesh.
Libya has been dogged by political instability since the 2011 ouster and death of long-ruling strongman Muammar Gaddafi.
In the more than three years since, rival militias have frequently locked horns, often bringing violence to the country's main cities, especially Benghazi and capital Tripoli.
The sharp political divisions have yielded two rival seats of government in Tripoli and Tobruk, each of which has its own institutions.