Libya asks help to fight ISIS

2015-08-18 16:43
A member of the Libyan army stands on a tank as heavy black smoke rises from the city's port in the background after a fire broke out at a car tyre disposal plant during clashes against Islamist gunmen in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi. (Abdulla

A member of the Libyan army stands on a tank as heavy black smoke rises from the city's port in the background after a fire broke out at a car tyre disposal plant during clashes against Islamist gunmen in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi. (Abdulla

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Cairo - Libya's internationally recognised government on Tuesday urged fellow Arab countries to arm its military so it can face the expanding Islamic State affiliate (ISIS) in the country.

Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Dairi made the appeal at an emergency Arab League meeting in Cairo. He warned that his ill-equipped government is unable to fight off ISIS, which he said was seeking to establish a base in Libya as it faces US-led air strikes in Iraq and Syria.

In a statement after the meeting, the Arab League urged member states to help Libya, separately or as a group. It didn't elaborate. Egypt had previously hit ISIS locations in Libya several times, including a series of air strikes after the militant group killed 21 Egyptian hostages there.

Arab League officials said member states are meeting next week to discuss the formation of a joint Arab force to be used to intervene in regional crises and combat terrorism.

Libya has slid into chaos since the 2011 overthrow and killing of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi. It is now divided between an elected parliament and government in the east, and an Islamist militia-backed government based in the capital, Tripoli.

The North African nation has been under a UN arms embargo since 2011. In March, the Security Council renewed the ban but under a resolution, allowed a sanctions committee to review any government's requests for exemptions from the embargo and arms exports.

The UN is concerned that if it allowed weapons into Libya, they could fall into the hands of multiple armed groups.

Al-Dairi's eastern-based government has in the past appealed for a lifting of the embargo, including after Libya's ISIS affiliate recently took control of the central coastal city of Sirte. It also asked for Arab countries to carry out air strikes against the militant group in Libya.

Read more on:    libya  |  north africa

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