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Libya rivals united 'against terrorism' ahead of UN talks

Foreign minister of Tobruk-based government welcomes rival Fajr Libya alliance's battle against Islamic State militants in Libya
Fighters from the Fajr Libya in Bir al-Ghanam, 50 kilometres from Tripoli, on 19 March, 2015 (AFP)

The foreign minister of Libya's Tobruk-based government congratulated the rival Fajr Libya alliance for having taken on fighters from the Islamic State group in the country.

Mohamed al-Dayri was speaking a day before Libya's rival parliaments were to resume UN-sponsored talks in Morocco on forming a national unity government and bringing an end to the violence wracking the oil-rich North African country.

Speaking to journalists at his home in the eastern city of al-Bayda, Dayri said he "welcomed favourably the course taken by factions of Fajr Libya who are fighting the Libya branch of IS in Sirte."

That position reinforces "one of the principal bases of national consensus to which we aspire ... which is the battle against terrorism."

He was referring to sporadic combat since Saturday around Sirte, home town of slain dictator Muammar Gaddafi, who was toppled in a 2011 NATO-backed revolt.

At least 12 fighters were killed Wednesday in clashes with IS near Sirte, where the militants have had much control since February.

Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn) is an alliance of fighters that back the Tripoli-based government and General National Congress (GNC).

IS, which already controls large swathes of Iraq and Syria, has been receiving pledges of allegiance from militant groups in Africa and has established a presence in Libya.

In January, its fighters killed nine people in an assault on a luxury hotel in Tripoli popular with diplomats and foreign businesspeople.

And last month, it released a video showing the beheading in Libya of 21 mostly Egyptian migrant workers.

Libya has been plagued by chaos since the end of the 2011 revolt, with heavily armed militias battling for control of its cities and oil wealth, and rival parliaments and their governments vying for power.

UN-brokered talks between the parliaments on the formation of a unity government had been due to resume in Skhirat, Morocco, on Thursday, but are now set for Friday, journalists there said. 

"There is need for calm in Libya," a United Nations official told the Anadolu Agency on Thursday.

"There should also be commitment to political dialogue, which can yield important results," he added.

Earlier on Thursday, representatives of the GNC arrived in the Moroccan city along with representatives of the House of Representatives, which convenes in the eastern city of Tobruk.

Libya's warring rivals held a round of talks in Morocco last week in an effort to resolve the conflict in the fractious North African country.