Special to WorldTribune.com
Old enemies have formed a new alliance in an effort to drive Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) out of Syria.
Commanders who were loyal to longtime dictator Col. Moammar Gadhafi have teamed up with former foe and current Libyan military leader Gen. Khalifa Haftar in an attempt to surround ISIL’s stronghold at Sirte. Haftar’s forces had fiercely battled Gadhafi loyalists for years.
Among Haftar’s new recruits is Gen. Ali Kanna, a Tuareg fighter who fought for Gadhafi, but fled to neighboring Niger when Tripoli fell in August 2011.
“Some of the ex-Gadhafi era people are hoping that they can redeem themselves by joining the fight” against ISIL, a Libya expert with the European Council on Foreign Relations told the Telegraph.
Some 2,000 militia from the port of Misrata are said to be gathering at Abugrein, to the west of Sirte, while Haftar’s troops are massing to the east, in the town of Ajdabiya. Officers from the UK, France, Italy, Germany and the U.S. are said to be helping to plan the siege on Sirte.
Sirte is said to have as many as 6,000 ISIL jihadists controlling the streets, which are reportedly littered with landmines and roadside bombs.
Haftar has 7,000 troops on his side as well as an air force and new armored vehicles provided by Egyptian President Abdul Fatah Sisi, according to reports.