Tunisian Authorities Worry Sirte IS Escapers Would Turn to Tunisia

Tunisian Authorities Worry Sirte IS Escapers Would Turn to Tunisia

tunisTunisia’s defense minister Tuesday in Paris warned his country may be retreat terrain for the Islamic State group militants fleeing the Libyan coastal city of Sirte as militiamen aligned with Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) tighten their grip around the terrorist group.

“The danger is real. Those who leave Sirte are heading south to eventually join Boko Haram, but some are also going west,” said Farhat Hachani on the side-lines of a meeting between defense and military officials in Paris.

GNA forces have launched last assault against IS in Muammar Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte to get rid of the terrorist group, which seized the city last year in June. The anti-IS campaign started in May and has received the aerial support from US airpower since the start of August.

Tunisia has become the North African country most targeted by terrorist attacks. IS claimed responsibility for three major terror attacks last year, which resulted in the death of 71 people, most of whom were foreign tourists.

Around 1,000 to 2,000 Tunisian citizens are said to be fighting for IS in Sirte. A UN report documenting movements of jihadists, has put the number of Tunisians fighting for terrorist groups in conflict zones, namely Libya, Iraq, and Syria at thousands.

Tunisia has been also facing repeated crossings on its soil by IS militants from lawless Libya. Authorities have built a sand wall and dug trenches along the border with lawless Libya.

Hachani in front of the threat called for an international coordination to monitor the jihadists’ movements.

“There is no regional strategy. Neighboring countries are managing the day to day security and military question … but while there are terror laws, you need proof that a young person was in a camp or fighting in jihadist ranks,” he said

“We are in a decisive moment. The threats endanger all the region. We have to cooperate before the boat sinks.”

The Tunisian official’s warning was echoed by his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian who also indicated that as a result of lack of international coordination, Tunisia and Egypt will find themselves in danger.

“What will happen tomorrow may indirectly present new risks for Tunisia and Egypt,” Le Drian said.

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