Libya seeks boosted US military backing

Conflict in Libya (File, AFP).
Conflict in Libya (File, AFP).

Berlin - Libya's unity government has asked Washington, which is backing an air campaign against the Islamic State group in Sirte, to step up its military assistance, the US Africa Command said on Thursday.

Fayez al-Sarraj, leader of the Government of National Accord (GNA), made the request during talks on Wednesday in Stuttgart with Africom's commander Thomas Waldhauser and US special envoy for Libya, Jonathan Winer.

"Discussions were held on ...the GNA's desire for US assistance with future enhanced military capabilities and defence capacity building," Africom said in a statement.

The US has been backing the GNA's efforts to retake the coastal city of Sirte from ISIS, with American jets pounding the jihadists' positions and equipment since the start of August.

"Waldhauser and Winer reiterated their support for GNA efforts and throughout the visit, the three discussed strategic options for Libya's future once Sirte is liberated," said Africom.

Pro-GNA forces began an assault in mid-May to expel ISIS from what had been its Sirte stronghold.

The jihadists had seized control of the city, which was the hometown of Libya's slain dictator Muammar Gaddafi, in June 2015.

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