Reports of imminent clash between Libyan forces and Islamic State

Libyan National Army reported to have taken control of UAE consignment of armoured vehicles to prepare clash against Isis in Sirte

Isis took control of Sirte in 2015
Isis took control of Sirte in 2015

A massive consignment of armoured vehicles to the Libyan National Army and the rapid deployment of Islamic State forces in Sirte have stoked fears of an impending clash between the forces of General Khalif Haftar and Isis.

The Libya Herald has reported contents of a letter from the president of the United Nations backed State Council, Abdulrahman Sewehli, calling on the Presidency Council to send troops to liberate Sirte and other nearby places currently controlled by Isis.

It also wants the Presidency to ask the UN Security Council to lift the weapons ban so that Libya can import arms to fight the extremists.

The State Council’s call follows the arrival in Tobruk on a Saudi vessel of a major consignment of military equipment for the Libyan National Army. Including some 100 vehicles, it is said to have been supplied by the United Arab Emirates for the LNA’s proposed push against Sirte.

Rapid action was needed, the State Council statement read, because IS was trying to expand its area of control as well as attacking oilfields in the Sirte basin.

Alwasat news reported witnesses saying that two armed ISIS convoys had left Sirte to the south in the direction of Jufrah, the other to Harawah.

The State Council said that in line with clause 5 of Article 24 of the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA), it was advising the Presidency to recruit a force led by professional military commanders from all over the country to capture Sirte. The clause states that the State Council can propose policies and recommendations on combatting terrorism, extremism, violence and exclusion.

The Presidency Council, which leads the UN-backed ‘Government of National Accord’, claims that Gaddafi loyalists are collaborating with foreign militias such as the rebel Sudanese Justice and Equality Movement to similarly disrupt the oil industry.

It called on neighbouring and European states to help stop such attacks and also help prevent the flow of illegal migrants through Libya.

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