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Libya: GNA Rejects Operation ‘Irini’ to Oversee Arms Embargo

Libya: GNA Rejects Operation ‘Irini’ to Oversee Arms Embargo

Saturday, 2 May, 2020 - 06:30
European Union flags fly outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, March 6, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

Libyan authorities have expressed rejection of a plan, Operation Irini, launched by the European Union to oversee an arms embargo in Libya.

The EU announced earlier a new naval mission in the Mediterranean to enforce an arms embargo on Libya – yet the mission was delayed.

Interior Minister of the Government of National Accord (GNA) Fathi Bashagha said that he discussed on Friday military developments with senior officials at the EU. They also discussed the latest updates and the breakthroughs achieved by the GNA forces in defeating illegitimate forces.

Bashagha stressed the unyielding stance of the GNA towards the operation and rejected it in its current form. According to him, the operation halts support to the GNA while allowing for the armament of Libyan National Army commander Khalifa Haftar.

"Irini has the necessary resources to begin its mission," said Peter Stano, spokesman for EU diplomatic chief Josep Borrell. EU states agreed on Monday to equip the new operation with ships, planes, and satellites, Stano added.

The Libyan minister added that the countries undermining Libya’s stability and breaching international law through arming illegal forces should be stopped.

Moreover, head of the GNA Fayez al-Sarraj informed European Parliament President David Sassoli of the government's rejection of the operation.

Sarraj added that Libya expected from the neighboring European countries to implement Security Council resolution no. 1970 issued in 2011.

In a related matter, the United Nations’ Libya mission on Thursday expressed concern over the civilian causalities in the country by the forces of Haftar.

“Between 1 January and 31 March 2020, UNSMIL documented at least 131 civilian casualties (64 deaths and 67 injuries). This figure represents an overall increase in civilian casualties of 45 percent compared to the preceding period in the fourth quarter of 2019,” UNSMIL revealed.

“Ground fighting was the leading cause of civilian casualties, followed by targeted killings, airstrikes, and improvised explosive devices,” it added.

“UNSMIL is very concerned by the continued indiscriminate attacks and targeting of civilians in civilian-populated areas and the increase in civilian casualties from the use of rockets and artillery, as well as from targeted killings by forces affiliated to the LNA,” the statement read.

“All parties to the conflict must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law including complying with the principles of distinction, proportionality, and precautions in attack to prevent civilian casualties,” the statement cited head of UNSMIL Stephanie Williams as saying.

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