Only united military can defeat IS: Libya PM

Tripoli—The head of Libya’s unity government said Sunday that only a united military bringing together all the country’s armed factions would be able to defeat the Islamic State group.
“We are convinced that the only way to end this organisation (IS) is through a united military command that brings together all Libyans from every region of the country,” prime minister-designate Fayez al-Sarraj told AFP in a written response to questions.
He also for the first time said his forces were receiving “limited assistance” from foreign countries, but did not name them.
Forces loyal to Sarraj’s UN-backed Government of National Accord have been fighting since mid-May to oust IS from Sirte, 450 kilometres east of the capital Tripoli.
Backed by the international community, the GNA set up base in Tripoli at the end of March but has struggled to assert its control over all of Libya.
It has support from some military units and armed groups mainly from western Libya.
But forces based in eastern Libya, including local militias and units of the national army loyal to a controversial general, Khalifa Haftar, have not joined with pro-GNA fighters in the battle against IS.
Loyalist fighters made significant early advances in the battle to take Sirte, but the offensive has slowed in the face of a fierce IS counter-attack.
Sarraj said a key reason was care that pro-GNA forces were taking for some 30,000 civilians estimated to still be inside the city.
“The slowdown in the advance of pro-government forces is due to our concern for the security of civilians who IS has not hesitated to use as human shields,” he said.—AFP

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