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Libyan oil storage sites under attack by Islamic State

U.N. mission says united government could be the bulwark against the Islamic State.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Jan. 7, 2016 at 6:26 AM

TRIPOLI, Libya, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- The Libyan military said it ordered air support to defend oil terminals under siege by Islamic State militants in the west of the country.

DAt least six oil tanks are said to be on fire at the port terminals of Sidra and Ras Lanuf in western Libya. The Libya Herald reported Gen. Khalifa Hafter has ordered fighter planes to the eastern city of Benghazi to help protect oil installations from further attacks by the group calling itself the Islamic State.

The National Oil Corp. of Tripoli condemned what it described as vicious attacks on the installations this week and called on "all political and military entities in Libya to put aside their differences and unite against this common enemy."

Libyan political leaders convened in December in Morocco to discuss an agreement that could pave the way to a unity government. Libya's political environment fractured in the wake of civil war in 2011, with factions establishing authority from opposite sides of the country.

Martin Kobler, the head of the U.N. Support Mission in Libya, said the Islamic State attacks serve as a reminder that all Libyans need to unite to form a cohesive government.

"These oil resources are property of the Libyan people and future generations, Libyan parties must spare no effort to block any attempt by [the Islamic State] to finance its terrorist agenda through seizure of Libyan oil," he said in a statement.

Before civil war erupted, Libya was producing more than 1 million barrels of oil per day. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said Libya was producing around 405,000 barrels per day in November, the last full month for which data are available, down about 5 percent from the previous month.

The eastern Libyan government of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni set up its own parallel National Oil Co.

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