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Obama Says Airstrikes in Libya will Continue as Long as Needed

(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)

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US forces continued to attack ISIS in Sirte, Libya on Tuesday. President Barak Obama said the airstrikes is vital to the protection of US national security.

Obama said that the airstrikes are intended to support the efforts of forces loyal to the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) to rid ISIS and establish security in Libya.

The UN-backed GNA made a request to the internationally community, especially to the US, to assist its forces in precise attacks.

ISIS has been using residences of Sirte as human shield effectively slowing down GNA loyal forces. Precise attacks would speed up efforts to kick ISIS out of Sirte without causing civilian casualties.

At a press conference in the White House Obama said that the airstrikes will continue for as long as they are needed “to assure that ISIL does not get a stronghold in Libya.”

Obama said that leaving Libya to a power vacuum after the NATO campaign against former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi is what brought about the chaos that Libya is currently facing.

“We did the right thing preventing what could have been a massacre, a bloodbath in Libya, and we did so as part of an international coalition, and under UN mandate, but I think that all of us collectively were not sufficiently attentive to what had to happen the day after, and the day after, and the day after that in order to ensure that there were strong structures in place to assure basic security and peace inside of Libya,” Obama said.

Obama gave credit to the GNA-backed forces saying they have “already made significant progress against ISIL and had essentially pushes ISIL into a very confined area in and around Sirte.”

“They are serious about trying to bring all the factions together to start creating a basic security structure to begin to monitor Libya’s borders and to cooperate internationally to deal with issues like ISIL penetration on their territory.”

The GNA is the only official government in Libya recognized by the international community and backed by the UN. However, a parliament in the east, known as the House of Representatives (HoR), is the GNA’s rival. General Khalifa Haftar who is backed by the HoR has refused to allow the HoR to give the GNA its support and vote of confidence.

Obama also noted the importance of unifying the rival governments for the country to solve the issues caused by the power vacuum that happened after the Libyan uprising in 2011. 

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