Libya calls for international airstrikes against ISIS

PARIS: Libya’s foreign minister Tuesday renewed a call for the lifting of an arms embargo and for international airstrikes to help tackle ISIS, which threatens to create a “rear base” in the country.

“The situation is extremely serious,” Mohammad al-Dayri, foreign minister for Libya’s internationally recognized government based in Misrata, said on a visit to Paris. “People are dying, are crucified, are disinterred from their graves, are burned alive. Libyans don’t understand why the international community doesn’t wake up to these dangers.”

Libya has two rival governments and has been torn apart since the international community helped oust Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

Libya’s official government has been based in the east since losing the capital a year ago to Libya Dawn, which set up its own government. Neither administration controls much territory.

Dayri said ISIS was present in the towns of Derna, Benghazi, Sirte and Sabratha. “They have not yet seized oil fields, but we fear they might come to control several wells,” he added.

“On Saturday, there was a call from their leaders in Iraq and Syria to reinforce their ranks in Libya. They want to make Libya a rear base.”

He said ISIS currently had limited means in Libya and had faced pushback from local populations working alongside other armed Islamist groups including Al-Qaeda, notably in Derna in June. “After 2011, Libya was abandoned to its fate.”

He called for the U.N. to lift the arms embargo imposed in 2011.

“We are not talking about sophisticated military equipment, but we need the minimum to fight terrorism in an adequate manner,” he said.

“We also hope for an [international] intervention as soon as possible because the danger is growing. But not troops on the ground. We are hoping for aerial support for the Libyan armed forces on the ground.

“The international community waited for Mosul to fall before intervening in Iraq. We don’t want to see Tripoli or Misrata fall,” he said.

ISIS Monday executed four people in Sirte, including at least one member of a rival group whose body was put on display, according to residents and a video published on social media. The video released by the militant group showed a gunmen shooting a man, dressed in an orange jumpsuit, who was tied to a makeshift cross. His body was left there afterward as a warning to others.

The man was identified as an alleged spy for Libya Dawn, a group backing a nonrecognized government in Tripoli, which has flown airstrikes against ISIS in Sirte.

The executions come after ISIS fighters crushed a revolt by a Salafist group and armed residents in Sirte earlier this month, trying to break its grip on the city, located some 500 km to the east of Tripoli.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 26, 2015, on page 10.

The Supreme Council of Cyberspace

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