ISIS Overruns More of Libya as US-European Operation Stalls

ISIS forces in Libya launched a surprise attack last week on local militias, enabling it to capture several towns southwest of its stronghold, the city of Sirte. As a result of the May 5-6 offensive, it gained control of Al Washka, Abu Njeem, Wadi Bey, Al Balgha, and Wadi Zamzam, among others. The Islamists fighters have reportedly reached the Harouge and Al-Rouagha mountains about 250 kilometers from the city.
Meanwhile, what are the US, Britain, France, and Italy, which all have special forces troops in Libya, doing to stop the advance of the terrorist organization?
There are two answers:
1. Since the April 27 battle between ISIS and special forces troops from Italy and Britain halfway between Sirte and Misrata, in which the Europeans suffered a major blow, all special forces have been ordered to avoid contact with ISIS and not engage in any clashes with its forces.
2. The four countries are continuing to exchange plans for an invasion of the country.
The following is an exclusive report by DEBKA Weekly’s military and counterterrorism sources on these plans.
NATO – The alliance’s military strategists believe that two steps must be taken immediately in order to stop ISIS in Libya.
1. Deployment of a large number of Western navy vessels to the Gulf of Sidra where they will positioned in tight formation to prevent the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe. These migrants pay ISIS between $3,000 and $10,000 per person to cross the Mediterranean by ship, providing one of the main sources of foreign currency for ISIS in Libya.
2. Once the naval blockade is in place, there will be no other choice but to land large NATO forces in Libya and carry out a ground operation to capture Sirte and destroy ISIS's hold in the country.
Where will these NATO forces come from? It is still unknown.
United States – The Obama administration is not ready to assume responsibility for organizing the naval and ground attack on Libya, or allocate military forces to carry it out.
France – President Francois Hollande, who was ready at the beginning of the year to instruct his country’s army, navy, and air force to spearhead the attack on Libya, has started to backtrack from that position over the last few days. It is not even clear whether the French are ready to command the operation.
Britain – Prime Minister David Cameron informed other European countries and the US that he will not deal with the problem of Libya until his country’s June 23 referendum on leaving the European Union.
Italy – Discussions have started at the highest government and military levels on whether the country should take France’s place in leading the attack on Libya. The consultations are only in the very early stages and no decision is expected anytime soon.

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