BACK AGAINST ISLAMIC STATE
John W. SpringAs a geographer and private citizen who has been following the situation in Libya since the Arab Spring, I wish to commend the TIME staff for publishing the forthcoming information in the August 29, 2016 issue of TIME. The article “LIBYA TURNS THE TIDE: Militias finally take on ISIS in the chaos of North Africa” by Jared Malsin, begins with a photograph taken by Lorenzo Meloni of a Libyan militia soldier on a Maghreb beach along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea who is a spotter lying low on the sand behind a makeshift berm where his periscope and range-finder faces the enemy of ISIS at the western frontline in Sirt.
Sirt is a coastal city in Libya that is situated between Misratah to the west and Benghazi to the east along the Gulf of Sidra or the Gulf of Sirte. All of these Arab cities and places are spelled so differently by various ways in English.
According to the aforementioned article, on August 10, 2016, Libyan militias had captured ISIS headquarters in Sirt where the jihadists established a foothold in Libya during 2014. This was also the area where Egyptian Coptic Christian workers were kidnapped, brutally tortured and killed by ISIS. Jared Malsin reported “The offensive, led by militias from the nearby city of Misratah, represents a victory over ISIS and, hopefully, takes Libya a step back from the brink of collapse. If they succeed in retaking the whole city [Sirt], the militias could effectively eliminate ISIS’s most important colony.” But, then, he mentions that “the victory will come at a cost.” In fact, at a very heavy cost in human lives.
Malsin also reports that “Sirt is also the newest front in the U.S.-led war against ISIS. At the request of the Libyan unity government in Tripoli [located further west], the U.S. launched five airstrikes on ISIS forces in Sirt on Aug. 1…”
Since I have been following the Libyan situation since February in 2011, I am aware of Lorenzo Meloni who has photographed battle-torn Libya over that period of time. Furthermore, I recall the very brave fighters from Misratah, whose ancestors were the ancient Phoenicians, who have sacrificed so much after holding their own ground after that earlier siege by Gaddafi’s forces.