Militants reportedly associated with the Islamic State(IS) attacked and seized two oil fields in central Libya south of the city of Sirte where IS appears to be in control.
Forces who were guarding the Bahi and Mabruk sites ran out of ammunition and were forced to retreat. According to one report, the fighters came from Sirte. The sites attacked are part of the al-Dhara oil field. The group blew up residential and administrative buildings before they retreated according to Mashallah al-Zewi, who is oil minister in the Tripoli government. The area is controlled by that government rather than the internationally-recognized government in Tobruk. The Islamic State fights against both governments. Al-Zewi said:The same militant group is thought to have attacked the al-Mabrouk field in February. That attack killed ten guards and resulted in seven foreigners being abducted including three Filipinos. The Islamic State in Libya controls the eastern city of Derna and now seems to control the city of Sirte as well in an area under the control of the Tripoli government. The group uses dramatic actions to gain attention. After the group beheaded 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians, Egypt launched airstrikes on the city of Derna provoking deadly suicide attacks in a nearby town in revenge. Derna is in the area nominally under control of the Tobruk-based internationally-recognized government. The Tobruk government with CIA-linked General Khalifa Haftar as head of the army is confined mainly to the east of Libya although Haftar has some allies, the Zintan brigades in the west as well. The Tripoli government has also been attacked by the Islamist militants and they launched an attack on a luxury hotel in Tripoli. Tripoli denies that the group that attacked the oil fields was associated with the Islamic State according to a CBS news report.The UN-brokered peace talks and dialogue designed to find a political solution to the conflict between the two rival government restarted in Rabat Morocco as shown on the appended video.The video notes that the Tripoli government is the one recognized by the Libyan Supreme Constitutional Court as the legitimate one, a fact rarely mentioned in most reports. There are more sessions planned in Algeria and Brussels next week. Talks have been ongoing for some time but in earlier talks the Tripoli government had no representatives present nor did their major militia Libya Dawn. This time they have. The Tobruk government dispatched planes to bomb a Tripoli airport just hours after the talks began. However, the Tobruk government later agreed to halt the airstrikes for three days to help the talks. The talks are aimed at forming a unity government acceptable to both sides and also to halt clashes between the two groups. UN envoy Bernardino Leon said to reporters after the talks: "There is a sense, of, if it's not optimism, at least a sense that it is possible to make a deal, and that is something very important because in the last months, this was not the case," Neither group recognizes the legitimacy of the other and so the UN mediators meet with each group separately during negotiations.The Tobruk government meanwhile is pressing demands to be allowed to build up its airforce and receive further arms despite the continuing arms embargo. The government describes its opponents in the Tripoli government and their allied militias as terrorists. Haftar and the Tobruk government have the support of Egypt. Many airstrikes by the Tobruk government have been against militia associated with the Tripoli government and have nothing to do with the Islamic State, although they too have been attacked in Derna.
"They surrounded the site from three different directions, and when guards ran out of ammunition, they stormed the place, looted everything and then bombed the buildings, leaving them in ruins."Nevertheless, all employees, including foreign workers, were evacuated safely.The oil field is one of the oldest in Libya and has been in production since 1962. Forces from the Tripoli government were able to retake the sites.
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