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Clashes in Sirte, Sarraj Discusses with Military Commanders Unifying Army

Clashes in Sirte, Sarraj Discusses with Military Commanders Unifying Army

Wednesday, 15 November, 2017 - 13:45
Fayez al-Sarraj addresses a news conference at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium February 2, 2017. Reuters

Clashes erupted Tuesday between the Libyan UN-backed government forces and militants in Sirte city, and eight of the gunmen were arrested.

"Members of the security force of Sirte suffered minor injuries after besieging a site in Jaref area in Sirte and clashing with an armed group. Eight gunmen were arrested," the government forces of Sirte said in a statement on Tuesday.

The media center of the government forces, headed by Fayez al-Sarraj and part of what is known as al-Bunyan al-Marsous operation, did not specify the identity of the detained militants or reveal whether they belonged to ISIS, which controlled the city, or any other groups.

Notably, the statement said that copper stores and power cables were found in the site.

ISIS affiliates in December 2015 were defeated and expelled from Sirte, some 450 km east the capital Tripoli, by forces allied with the UN-backed government and backed by US air force. After that, the remaining ISIS militants fled to southern valleys and mountain areas.

The terrorists set up mobile security checkpoints from time to time on the road leading to southern cities and checked civilian cars passing by, in search of soldiers or security personnel to kidnap.

On the other hand, and upon the surprising visit of Malta’s Foreign Minister Carmelo Abela to Tripoli, Sarraj expressed his government's desire to develop channels of communication between the two countries to coordinate the smuggling operations and support cooperation in the political, economic and service fields.

Minister Abela expressed Malta’s desire to have a Maltese Resident Ambassador present in Tripoli once again in order to make cooperation and assistance more effective, efficient and tangible.

Malta had withdrawn its ambassador in the wake of continued violence in the Libyan capital.

Sarraj also met on Monday military officials in the presence of members of the committee, which represented his government in meetings held in Cairo recently, with a delegation of the national army led by Haftar, to discuss the unification of the military establishment in the country.

Sarraj’s office issued a statement explaining that during a meeting with the Chief of Staff and leaders of his military establishment, Sarraj stated that the course of unification of the army will be completed successfully by means of a political consensus.

He pointed out that for a unification to be successful, Libya needs to halt the actions of some political and military players that are continuously attempting to disrupt and undermine efforts to achieve this consensus.

The meeting also discussed the findings of the Presidential Council’s committee at the Cairo meeting with their counterparts from the eastern region to discuss the unification of the military establishment in Libya and its relationship with the civil authority.

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