US Closes Libya Embassy, Hundreds Dead in Syria

Arab world murder and mayhem continue to rage - not in Gaza, but in Libya, Syria and Iraq

Dalit Halevi ,

Militiamen in Tripoli, Libya
Militiamen in Tripoli, Libya

While the world's headlines were focused on Gaza, the murder and mayhem that has been the rule in much of the Arab world in recent months continued apace. Dozens of people were dead Sunday in Libya in clashes between Libyan government troops and Islamist militants in Benghazi. Sources said that at least 38 people had died in the 24 hour period ending Sunday at noon.

The government is fighting back against an Islamic insurgency consisting of several Islamist groups, calling itself the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries. Clashes have been taking place daily for months as government troops and rebels vie for influence in Benghazi and other cities.

It was those clashes that prompted the United States to order all staff evacuated from its embassy in Tripoli Saturday. Fighting has intensified in the city, and there are fears that the rebels could take the airport any day.

Besides the US, Turkey has also evacuated all personnel. The UK still has a presence in the country, but has warned its citizens against traveling to Libya.

The fighting has also reached outlying neighborhoods; Egyptian news reports said that 23 Egyptians were killed last week when a missile hit a neighborhood of Tripoli where they lived.

Meanwhile, some 700 people were killed in Iraq and Syria in areas controlled by Islamists where a “caliphate” has been declared by Islamist group The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). The Islamists in recent days took captive an entire division of Syrian soldiers, beheaded them, and put their heads on display. Photos and videos have surfaced on several websites of Islamists posing with the heads of the soldiers.

In recent days, ISIS destroyed the tomb of Biblical Jonah, according to Arabic media outlets, in a show of disdain for non-Islamic cultures. 

Jonah the Prophet is known as the paradigmatic example of teshuva, repentance, in the Bible, and his story is recorded in the Koran as well. 

According to Al-Arabiya, Jonah's tomb was dated to the eighth century BCE, and his tomb was also one of the many historic mosques said to have been destroyed by ISIS Islamists.