It's emerged Daesh is using female jihadists to carry out suicide attacks in western Libya. Three women have been killed in the past week in the city of Sabratha, according to Taher-al-Gharabi, head of its military council.
Mr Gharabi told London newspaper The Times: "Several female operatives have been killed [this week] fighting alongside men. One of them tried to blow herself up, wearing an explosive vest". At least seven other female jihadists, believed to be Tunisian are in custody.
Hussain al-Thwadi, mayor of Sbratha, a coastal city east of the capitol, Tripoli, told The Times:
"The women mostly handle the logistics of the battle but they are also fighting."
It's thought that this is the first time women who belong to Daesh have taken up combat roles, female jihadists are usually assigned to police positions — although the presence of Daesh militants in Libya is nothing new.
The US and France have been pushing for military action since January to stop the extremists taking over more of the country's oil fields and now western allies are discussing the potential for airstrikes and Special Forces operations in Libya against Daesh.
"A training team of some 20 troops from the 4th infantry Brigade is now moving to Tunisia to help to counter illegal cross-border movement from Libya in support of the Tunisian authorities," defense secretary Michael Fallon told Parliament in London on Monday 29 February.
"I…am extremely concerned about the proliferation of Daesh along the Libyan coastline, which is why we have been urgently assisting the formation of a new Libyan government," Fallon said.
However, western allies have been accused of contributing to the lawlessness of Libya in the first place after failing to form a unity government after the NATO-led invasion overthrew Muammar Gaddafi and the country descended into chaos.
Civil war has been raging between rival tribal militia groups leaving Libya open to exploitation by Daesh. But plans by western allies to counter the presence of Daesh continue to be thwarted by the failure of the formation of a United Nations-backed unity government.
"Before taking any military action in Libya, we would seek an invitation from the new Libyan Government," Britain's defense secretary Michael Fallon told Parliament, adding that Britain was not currently planning to deploy ground troops in Libya in combat roles.
Last June, Daesh gunmen attacked a beach at a hotel resort in Tunisia, killing 30 British tourists.
Meanwhile, Tunisia's government supports plans — in principle — for German forces to train the country's troops from neighboring Libya to fight Daesh.