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Libya’s Eastern-Based House of Representatives Condemns Italy's Decision to Deploy More Troops

Libya’s Eastern-Based House of Representatives Condemns Italy's Decision to Deploy More Troops

Friday, 19 January, 2018 - 10:30
Libyans clean inside Mitiga airport the day after militiamen attacked it in an attempt to free colleagues held at a jail there, on the eastern outskirts of the Libyan capital Tripoli, on January 16, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / Mahmud TURKIA)

Clashes between armed militias ravaging the Libyan capital Tripoli forced the head of the United Nations Mission in Libya Ghassan Salamé to brief the UN Security Council through the video conference from neighboring Tunisia.

On the other hand, Italian military deployment in Libya, where about an additional 30 soldiers are expected to join the original 400, was widely criticized by the Libyan House of representatives.

Salamé said military forces “are flexing their muscles in many parts of the country”, imperiling a peace process centered on creating a united government for the war-scarred nation.

“The very reason that I am not briefing from Tripoli ... as I had planned, is because bloody clashes at the airport have halted all flights in and out of Mitiga airport for the whole week,” said Salamé.

He added that the fragile and shaky status quo is not sustainable and that Libya needs a competent and efficient government that can deliver the public services people desperately need.

The National Defense and Security Committee of the Libyan eastern-based House of Representatives condemned Italy's decision to deploy more troops in the city of Misurata.

"The National Defense and Security Committee condemns the clear violation of Libya's sovereignty by Italy through the Italian House of Representatives vote to approve the increase of its forces in Misurata," the committee said in a statement.

"With this vote, Italy admits the presence of its forces, despite its previous denial of any troops on Libyan territory," the statement added.

The committee warned Italy against "continued violation of Libya's sovereignty," and demanded explanation from Italy.

The Italian parliament on Wednesday approved the increase of Italian troops in Libya.

Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said earlier that Italy will transfer part of its military units from Iraq and Afghanistan to North Africa to combat illegal immigration and counter terrorism threats.

In September 2016, the Italian government sent a non-combat military mission, which includes about 100 special forces personnel, at the request of the Libyan UN-backed government to Misurata, some 200 km east of the capital Tripoli, to provide protection for the Italian field hospital inside Misurata air base.

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