Italy warns of Libya threat, US explores ISIS links

Italy calls for international action on Libya, US explores operational linkages between ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and ISIS in Libya

One of the dramatic scenes of execution of Egyptian Copts by ISIS-affiliates
One of the dramatic scenes of execution of Egyptian Copts by ISIS-affiliates

Italy called on Wednesday for urgent international action to halt Libya’s slide into chaos, and pledged it was ready to help monitor a ceasefire and train local armed forces.

The U.N. Security Council will meet today Wednesday to discuss Libya, where two rival governments, each backed by former rebels who toppled Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, are battling for power.

On Sunday, Islamic State released a video showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya.

Reuters reported foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni telling parliament that possible alliances between local militias and IS militants, inspired by counterparts in Syria and Iraq, risked destabilising neighbouring countries.

“The deterioration of the situation on the ground forces the international community to move more quickly before it’s too late,” he said in a special address on the crisis.

“There’s a clear risk of alliances between Daesh and local groups,” he said, using a common Arabic name for Islamic State. “The situation must be monitored with the maximum attention.”

Gentiloni spoke with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry late on Tuesday when Italy joined the United States, France, Germany, Spain and Britain in calling for a national unity government in Libya. He said Wednesday’s Security Council meeting had to produce concrete signs that the scale of the crisis had been recognised, and he said Italy was ready to help monitoring a ceasefire and training a regular army within the framework of a U.N. mission.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the U.S. Secretary of State said that it was clear there are “ISIL-affiliated terrorists in Libya.”

“That’s not new. But that’s something, obviously, the tragic events of the last several days over the – and what happened to the Egyptian Copts – it certainly brings to light and brings to the surface that fact. We’re still assessing the extent of operational and tactical linkages to ISIL in Iraq and Syria, and that is not something we have any new assessment on.”