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US military monitoring ISIS training in Libya: general - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Libyan followers of Ansar Al-Shari'a Brigades and other Islamic militias hold a demonstration against a film and a cartoon denigrating the Prophet Muhammad in Benghazi, Libya, on September 21, 2012. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon, File)

Libyan followers of Ansar Al-Shari’a Brigades and other Islamic militias hold a demonstration against a film and a cartoon denigrating the Prophet Muhammad in Benghazi, Libya, on September 21, 2012. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon, File)

Washington, Reuters—The US military is closely monitoring a nascent effort by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the militant group that has overrun parts of Syria and Iraq, to train a couple of hundred fighters in eastern Libya, the commander of US forces in Africa said on Wednesday.

Army Gen. David Rodriguez, head of the US Africa Command, said it was not yet clear how closely aligned the trainees were with ISIS or whether the effort should be targeted by US forces.

He said he had not recommended US troops or air power to go after the training camps in the chaotic North African country at this point.

“We’re watching it very carefully to see how it develops,” Rodriguez told reporters at the Pentagon. “Right now it’s just small and very nascent and we just have to see how it goes.”

Rodriguez said the trainees appeared to be members of Libyan militias who were “trying to make a name or trying to make a connection.” It was unclear whether they might join ISIS fighters elsewhere once their training was complete, he said.

“It’s mainly about people coming for training and logistics support right now, for training sites, and that’s what we see right now. As far as a huge command and control network, I have not seen that yet,” Rodriguez said.

“The numbers are somewhere around a couple hundred . . . but again we don’t have a specific precise assessment of that right now,” he said.

Libya itself is caught in a conflict between two rival governments, one which is self-declared and was set up in Tripoli after forces from a group known as Libyan Dawn took over the capital in the summer, and another, internationally recognized government which operates from the eastern city of Tobruk.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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