US military: Islamic State establishing camps in Libya

US military: Islamic State establishing camps in Libya
Islamic State group, which has overrun large areas of Iraq and Syria, has set up training camps in eastern Libya, a top US general has said.
2 min read
04 December, 2014
Islamic State grtoup is exploiting the chaos that has engulfed Libya.

The Islamic State group (IS), which overran large areas of Iraq and Syria, has set up training camps in eastern Libya and the US military is closely monitoring, a top US general said Wednesday.

Western countries have been increasingly worried that Libya's political turmoil could provide fertile ground for extremists, but General David Rodriguez ruled out military action on the "nascent" camps in the immediate future.

"They put training camps out there," Rodriguez, head of US Africa Command, said in reference to IS.

Shifting alliances

The US has been waging an air war against IS in Iraq and Syria, but when asked if the training camps in Libya were a potential target for US forces, Rodriguez said: "No, not right now", adding that IS "has begun its efforts over in the east out there to introduce some people over there".

"But we'll have to just continue to monitor and watch that carefully in the future to see what happens or whether it grows on unabated."

The four-star general said it appeared IS militants in Libya were not volunteers coming from outside the country but militia members who had shifted their loyalty to the jihadist group.

IS expoliting chaos

His comments came after the US government and European allies voiced "grave concern" over mounting violence and civil unrest in Libya. 

Experts have warned that the IS group has gained a foothold in the eastern town of Derna, exploiting the chaos that has engulfed the North African state.  

Libya has been plagued by instability since the overthrow of autocratic leader Moamer Kadhafi in 2011, and IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi recently boasted of vows of allegiance from militants in the country.  

Analysts say a number of factions in Derna have pledged loyalty to the IS group, but it remains unclear how much support they enjoy.  

IS, which claims to have established a "caliphate" across the region, is the prime target of the US-led bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria. 

The group has prompted global revulsion after beheading Western, Syrian and Iraqi hostages and releasing the footage on the internet.

While largely based in Iraq and Syria, IS has also attracted pledges of allegiance from militant groups in Egypt, with the Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (Partisans of Jerusalem) group last month vowing support for the group.