Experts from the United Nations (UN) say there are between 2,000 and 3,000 members of Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in Libya.
The experts, in a 24-page report released on Tuesday, said “that, in total, Daesh has no more than 2,000-3,000 members in Libya,” with about 1,500 now being in Sirte, which is located 450 kilometers (280 miles) east of the capital city of Tripoli and was overrun by the extremists in February.
The report added that the Libyan branch of Daesh “faces strong resistance from the population, as well as difficulties in building and maintaining local alliances,” stressing that the Takfiris’ threat “needs to be realistically assessed.”
It said Daesh is taking advantage of its “appeal” and atrocious campaign in the Middle Eastern countries of Iraq and Syria, and poses “an evident short and long-term threat in Libya” since it regards the country as the “best” opportunity to expand its militancy.
Nonetheless, the experts said there is concern about the spread of Daesh in Libya, given the country’s strategic location on the Mediterranean Sea and its use as a transit point in North Africa.
UN officials also expressed concern over the growth of the Daesh terrorist group in Libya, warning that more territory would enable the militants to provoke more tensions in North Africa and the Sahel region, which they may use as a launching pad for terrorist attacks.
They said around 800 Libyans, who previously fought for Daesh in Syria and Iraq are now fighting for the Takfiri militant outfit in Libya, and Daesh chiefs continue to send emissaries from the Middle East to Libya with instructions.
Daesh has also benefited from a significant number of recruits from Libya’s neighbors as well as a sizable contingent of defectors from local Libyan militia groups.
Over the past four years, Libya has been grappling with political uncertainty and violence committed by militants, including Daesh.
Since August 2014, when militias seized Tripoli, Libya has had two parliaments and two governments, with one – the General National Congress (GNC) – being run by the rebels in the capital and the other, which is internationally-recognized, based in the northeastern city of Tobruk.
The UN has proposed the formation of a national unity government in an effort to end the conflict in the North African state. Under the proposal, a nine-member presidential council, including a prime minister, five deputy prime ministers and three senior ministers, will govern Libya.