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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

Daesh pushing deeper in Libya for oil: French minister

Iran Press TV

Mon Dec 14, 2015 11:16AM

France has warned about the spillover of terrorist acts by the Daesh extremist group from its stronghold on Libya's coast deeper into the embattled country in a bid to gain access to oil reserves.

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian issued the warning on Monday in an interview with the RTL radio, saying Daesh militants are now in the northern city of Sirte and their territory extends 250 kilometers (155 miles) along the coast.

"But they are starting to penetrate the interior and to be tempted by access to oil wells and reserves,' Le Drian added.

The comments come as Libya has been struggling with instability since 2011, when the country's then dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, was overthrown and armed groups as well as regional factions engaged in a conflict.

The capital, Tripoli, is controlled by a political faction, called Libya Dawn, allied with powerful armed forces based in the city of Misrata. The faction has reinstated the old parliament, known as the General National Congress (GNC), in the capital.

The internationally-recognized government of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni is based in the eastern city of Bayda, with its elected House of Representatives in Tobruk.

Libya's warring factions have for long been urged to lay down their arms and back a new national unity government, as groups affiliated with Daesh are taking advantage of the chaos in the oil-rich North African country to capture parts of it.

Experts from the United Nations said in a recent report that between 2,000 and 3,000 members of Daesh Takfiri terrorist group are currently in Libya.

The 24-page report added that Daesh is exploiting 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.

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