Libyan pro-government forces walk next to their vehicle mounted with a machine gun on May 18, 2016 in Abu Grein, south of Misrata (Photo Credit: Mahmud Turkia/AFP)

A leader of the Northern African branch of the Islamic State terrorist group (outlawed in Russia) was killed in a Libyan National Army (LNA) operation in southern Libya, an LNA source told TASS.

According to reports on September 15, LNA forces conducted a major operation in the southern city of Sabha some 750 km away from the capital Tripoli, where a group of radicals took shelter in a well-fortified cluster of houses. A shootout ensued, lasting more than six hours. As a result, nine militants and three LNA servicemen were killed.

Among those killed were one citizen of Egypt, two Libyans, three residents of Saudi Arabia and an Ausralian passport holder. Two women who accompanied the extremists – citizens of Egypt and Libya – were detained.

The LNA source told TASS that the identification and inquiry was completed last week.

“The investigation revealed that one of those killed was a leader of the Islamic State in North Africa, known as Abu Abdullah al-Iraqi, a man of the Iraqi Kurd origin whose real name is Abdullah al-Rabie,” the source said.

According to the source, the extremist arrived to Libya via Turkey in 2014.

Islamic State followers were forced to flee to several southern districts of Libya after being pushed out from their former strongholds of Benghazi, Sirte and Derna. Last year, LNA conducted a large-scale military operation in southwestern regions, targeting terrorists, criminal gangs and Chad opposition groups. In a few months, the army regained control over main cities and oil fields in the south of the country.

However, militants intensified their attacks after LNA redeployed some of its forces from Libya’s south to its ongoing offensive against the Tripoli government forces.

Currently, Libya has two supreme executive authorities, namely the internationally-recognized Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) headed by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, and the interim government, seated in the east of the country, along with the elected parliament, which is supported by the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. The conflicting parties have been fighting for control over the capital city for more than a year. After Haftar launched an offensive in April 2019 with an aim of what he called liberation of the city from terrorists, the Government of National Accord turn to Turkey for support and signed a memorandum of military cooperation with it in November 2019.

Source: TASS, September 24th, 2020