BEIRUT

Middle East

Libyan Islamists urge jihadists to join their ranks

Smoke is seen rising from the Brigade Qaqaa headquarters behind members of the Libya Shield, following clashes between rival militias at the Sawani road district in Tripoli, Libya August 24, 2014. (REUTERS/Stringer)

BENGHAZI: Libyan jihadist group Ansar al-Sharia, which Tripoli and Washington have both labeled a terrorist organization, Monday urged other Islamist militias in the North African nation to unite under one banner.

Ansar al-Sharia, which controls around 80 percent of its heartland Benghazi some 1,000 kilometers east of Tripoli, appealed directly to Misrata militia Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn) and its allies in the west.

"Unite with the mujahedeen in Benghazi so together we can defend the same objective - a total rejection of any Western plan" for Libya, Ansar al-Sharia said in an online message aimed at other militias in the violence-plagued country.

"Proclaim that your struggle is for sharia (Islamic law) and not democratic legitimacy, so the world unites under the same banner to bolster the forces of good against the forces of evil," it added.

Ansar al-Sharia urged other Islamists to beware what it dubbed Western plots aimed at "opposing the mujahedeen under the pretext that they are extremists."

The group's appeal comes after Islamist militiamen from Misrata said they had seized Tripoli international airport from former rebels from Zintan in the west, who had controlled it previously.

Footage broadcast Monday by a television station close to the Islamists showed the departures terminal at Tripoli airport ravaged by fire and around a dozen aircraft from Libyan companies bearing signs of damage caused by fighting.

The images appeared to confirm that the airport 30 kilometers south of Tripoli had fallen into the hands of the Islamists.

Parliament in Libya, which is openly opposed by the jihadists that it has labeled "terrorists," has said it intends to fight them using the regular armed forces.

 

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