The Islamic State is reportedly training its fighters in Libya using civilian aviation simulators, Libyan military officials told Arabic daily Asharq al-Awsat on Wednesday.
The training was being conducted in the city of Sirte, which has been under ISIS control for a several months. An estimated 3,000 ISIS fighters are currently based in Libya.
According to the sources, ISIS was using at least one flight simulator, the source of which was unknown. "The simulator is about as large as a small car, and simulates every facet of flight including air-to-ground communications," the sources said.
The officials initially believed that ISIS had attained the simulator during the looting of former Gaddafi airfields, but were later made aware that the simulators were new. This means that the simulators were brought from abroad.
A Libyan army commander said that a group of ISIS commanders, including former Libyan army officers, attained the simulator in October.
Libyan security officials were also reportedly aware of an additional simulator, which is aimed at training fighter pilots.
A security official who was part of the team tracking ISIS activities in North Africa was cited in the article as saying that there is concrete information that ISIS was training pilots to fly civilian aircraft in Libya.
The terror organization is close to controlling the entire city of Sirte, which would give it dangerous access to the Mediterranean - directly threatening southern Europe.
"Libyan Air Force planes, that were not sufficiently armed, have previously attempte to destroy at least one ISIS training camp, but the attacks achieved little results," the official said. He also claimed that the aerial attacks only caused ISIS to move its facilities from one place to another, in order to defend them from the strikes.
According to the paper, researchers in the Middle East have already passed on information about ISIS's qualitative advancements, and its progress towards the Mediterranean.