Gold, guns and piles of cash found in Islamic State's Libya stronghold
Published 23/08/2016 | 17:58
Libyan fighters battling against the Islamic State (Isil) discovered a hoard of stolen jewelry, suitcases stuffed with cash and an arsenal of weapons when they overran a jihadist storehouse in the city of Sirte.
Militia fighters said they discovered the haul in a building Isil referred to as "The House of Muslim funds" or more simply as "the accounting department".
The valuables are believed to have been looted from local homes, especially from residences of wealthy people who fled when Isil captured the town in May last year.
Photographs released by government-backed militias showed jewelry boxes stuffed with golden necklaces, bangles and earrings.
The jihadist group forbids jewelry and usually forces women living under its rule to cover up fully in the black niqab.
Piles of Libyan and Tunisian cash were found inside luggage and flour sacks along with laptops and mobile phones.
The militia fighters also found a stash of Kalashnikov rifles, shotguns and handguns which are believed to have been taken from private citizens as Isil disarmed the residents of Sirte.
The discovery came as militia forces fought to finally drive Isil from its Libyan stronghold, which is also the birthplace of the former dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
The operation to recapture Sirte, known as "Solid Structure", was launched three months and is being spearheaded by militia fighters from the neighboring city of Misrata.
The US has carried out dozens of airstrikes in support of militia forces as they creep forward in the face of Isil booby traps and sniper fire.
Over the weekend they drove jihadist fighters from the city's main mosque and the prison which was used to house those who offended Isil's extreme morality laws.
Driving Isil from Sirte would be a blow to their ambitions in Libya but would not be the end of their presence in the north African country, which has been in political chaos since the Libyan Revolution of 2011 ended Gaddafi's reign.