(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
ISIS militants in Sirte, Libya
Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) called on all political factions to refrain from any military operations against ISIS controlled Sirte until a unified military force is established.
Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj stated Thursday that any isolated campaigns against ISIS in Sirte could spark clashes between the various political factions in Libya which could in turn strengthen the terrorist group’s position in the country.
ISIS militants have taken control of Sirte, the hometown of ousted dictator Muammar Gaddafi, since June and have taken advantage of the ongoing conflict between Libya’s political and armed groups. Sirte is located on the coast between the Tripoli-based unity government in the west and the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HOR) located in the east.
The GNA, which has the support of the international community in their fight against ISIS, is hoping that all of Libya’s political factions will unite in order to defeat the terrorist group. Prime Minister Sarraj cautioned that an uncoordinated military advance against ISIS could embroil the country in civil war.
The liberation of Sirte from the threat of ISIS is a priority for the new unity government as Western powers expressed their growing fear that the extremist militant group could use the coastal city to orchestrate attacks against Europe, and promised military training if requested by the GNA.
Sarraj, whose goal is to unify Libya under a central military command structure in order to defeat ISIS “by Libyan hands and not through foreign intervention,” has called upon the HOR in the east to give its vote of confidence to the new unity government as outlined in the Libyan Political Agreement and for general Khalifa Haftar of the Libyan National Army to transition his armed forces under the GNA.
“We have now reached the stage of practical implementation. Enough argument and talk. There is no time to waste in political debates… We are working tirelessly to complete the commitments of the Libyan Political Agreement. We started work as soon as we arrived on a series of meetings with all the various leaderships of institutions and society”
Sarraj stressed that the serious threat of ISIS could only be defeated under his national strategic plan and warned that he would not allow the offensive against ISIS in Sirte to be used for political leverage or personal gains.