Libya tries 56 IS suspects

MISRATAH, Libya (AFP) — The trial opened Monday in Libya’s western city of Misrata of 56 suspected Islamic State (IS) group militants captured after the 2016 fall of its bastion Sirte.

The suspects, out of a total of 320 facing trial, appeared in court before the trial was adjourned to 25 September, judicial sources said.

The IS group captured the central city of Sirte in 2015, setting up a stronghold before being driven out the following year by forces loyal to the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) in power at the time.

The suspected jihadists face charges of “joining a terrorist group” and killing members of the GNA forces, lawyer Lotfi Mohaychem, representing families of anti-IS fighters killed in the battle for Sirte, said.

The suspects appeared in the dock clad in blue prison overalls, some with their faces covered, in the crowded courtroom where dozens of the families had gathered.

The suspects comprised Syrians, Tunisians, Sudanese and Libyan nationals.

Fatima al-Tlisi told AFP that her son was “still a high school student when he joined the forces” and was killed fighting IS.

Libya was plunged into over a decade of chaos and lawlessness following the 2011 North Atlantic Treaty Organization-backed uprising that led to the removal and killing of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

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