Friday 24 November 2017

Do not send foreign troops to fight Isil, warns Libya

An Isil military convoy drives through Libya in this picture released by the terror group.
An Isil military convoy drives through Libya in this picture released by the terror group.

Louisa Loveluck

The commander of Libya's air force has warned against sending foreign troops to halt the country's slide into chaos.

Saqr al-Joroushi said such a move would not be welcomed by Libyans, despite the violence being wrought by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) and other extremist groups, and would worsen the situation.

"If any foreign soldier touches our soil with his foot, all Libyan people will be united against him," said Mr Joroushi. "Our problems will be aggravated with the coming of foreign troops."

Three-and-a-half years after a Nato-backed uprising toppled Libyan dictator Muammar Ghadaffi, the country's rival militia-backed parliaments have been unable to exert control over vast swathes of territory, providing fertile ground for Isil and other militant groups who have gained a foothold.

This week, a UN envoy tasked with brokering a peace deal between Libya's warring factions said that military intervention would be one of the few options left if forthcoming peace talks end without a deal.

But in an interview, Mr Joroushi said Libya did not need foreign soldiers. "We welcome air strikes against terrorism to impose world peace. We have our own air force and we are ready to coordinate, and to give precise targets," he said.

Philip Hammond, the British Foreign Secretary, yesterday rejected international military action in Libya, and said the crisis-hit country needed a political solution.

"We don't believe that military action can solve the problem in Libya," Mr Hammond said at a press conference in Algiers.

Egypt has already launched its first overseas military mission in two decades, striking targets around the Libyan city of Derna on Monday. The bombing runs came after Isil militants broadcast the filmed execution of at least 20 Egyptian Christians on Libya's Mediterranean shore.

Mr Joroushi said that more raids were being coordinated with Egypt. Wary of the potential for militants to enter Egypt through its porous western border, Cairo has been offering clandestine support to Libya's internationally recognised government for months.

Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi visited the border town of Salloum, where he met Mr Joroushi and other leading Libyan military officials to discuss security co-operation. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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