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Aug 24, 11:52 AM EDT

Libyan general says forces fighting IS lack weapons


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AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen

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AMMAN, Jordan (AP) -- The military chief of Libya's internationally-recognized government said Monday that lack of weapons prevented his forces from attacking Islamic State extremists in the city of Sirte, but that he has been promised help from the Arab League.

Gen. Khalifa Hifter spoke to reporters after meeting with Jordan's army chief. The two discussed the training of Libyan troops by Jordan and medical treatment of Libyan war-wounded in the kingdom, Hifter said.

Libya effectively split in half last year when forces allied to Hifter attempted to drive rival militias out of Tripoli and were defeated, leaving Libya's internationally-recognized government and elected parliament confined to the eastern cities of Tobruk and Bayda.

The two sides have been negotiating to end months of fighting, the bloodiest since the 2011 overthrow of dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

An IS affiliate has exploited the chaos and started taking hold in Sirte, Gadhafi's hometown, in March. The IS-linked fighters consolidated their hold over Sirte earlier this month after putting down a local rebellion.

Hifter said he has asked for foreign help to try to wrest Sirte from the militants.

"Lack of weapons prevents us from expanding," he told a news conference in Amman. "We have limits because of our limited capabilities."

The government received "promises from the members of the Arab League to provide the required assistance to stage a proper attack" in Sirte, he said.

Hifter said he and Jordanian military officials reviewed previous agreements on training and medical care.

"Jordan has prepared places regarding the technical and tactical training," he said. "In the medical field, we need Jordanian help as we have injuries as a result of fighting terrorists."

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