LIBYAPROSPECT – Aya Khalil
The Chief of the State Council, Abdul-Rahman Al-Swihly, expressed discontent over the delay of the international community to fulfill its promises to support the forces fighting the Islamic State group (IS) in the city of Sirte under legitimacy of the Presidential Council (PC) of the Government of National Accord (GNA) as the supreme army leader, especially in evacuating and curing the injured and lifting arms embargo over these forces.
Al-Swihly, during a meeting with the United Nations special envoy to Libya, Martin Kobler, stressed the importance of the role that played by the State Council in the GNA’s working from Tripoli and in implementing the political agreement.
He denounced the crimes of the retired General Khalifa Haftar and his forces in Derna and expressed astonishment at the silence of the Presidential Council of the GNA, according to Al-Swihly’s expression.
Al-Swihly and other State Council members stated that Libyans are now suffering due to a minority of the House of Representatives (HoR), which is blocking granting confidence to the GNA, believing that the reason behind current crises of lack of liquidity and electricity outage is the parallel governmental bodies that keep breaching the agreement and the Security Council resolution.
On his turn, Kobler also denounced targeting civilians in Derna or any other city, adding that the Security Council will lift the arms embargo on forces fighting the IS in Sirte only when their fellowship is to the PC as the supreme army leader.
Kobler also stressed on “the continuation of the international community in support of the Libyan political agreement signed in Skhirat as a sole legitimate framework for the political process, without any change in its terms.” He explained that “the political agreement and resulted bodies derives its legitimacy from the Libyans themselves,” He recognized the inability of the GNA in humanitarian and service aspects so far.
The Libyan Mufti, Al-Sadek AL-Gheriany, has called onto rebels to keep fighting till they clear Sirte and telling them to join the front of Benghazi afterward.
“The real battle that decides Libya’s fate is Haftar’s battle in Benghazi” considering that this fight will enable rebels to win then Libya will feel relief and stability,” Al-Gheriany said in a recorded statement.
“if they stand midway, Haftar will take the battle to their home.”
He called on all abled from Misrata, Zliten, Tripoli, Tajoura, and Al-Zawia to support rebels Saraya lately formed in Benghazi after fleeing Sirte entirely.
In London, the “Financial Times” British newspaper published on Monday, a report conveying calls of forces loyal to the Libyan government to Western countries to provide them with weapons to continue the war against the IS in Sirte.
The spokesman for forces allied with the UN-backed government in Tripoli, General Mohamed Al-Ghasri, told the Financial Times that troops surrounding the IS stronghold needed long-range weapons because the IS snipers had rifles that could hit targets up to 2km away.
Al Ghasri confirmed weekend reports that pro-government forces had entered Sirte and seized the port area and several districts. But he said that the IS militants still controlled parts of the city. These included the Ouagadougou conference center, a complex of high-rise buildings where, he said, snipers had taken up positions.
The paper reported that The offensive against Sirte is a significant setback for the IS, which had benefited from the political vacuum in Libya to carve out a stronghold and seize territory around the coastal city.
The Pentagon estimated that there were 6,500 IS fighters in Libya, but some analysts now believe that figure may be exaggerated, it adds.
The analyst with the European Council on Foreign Relations, Mattia Toaldo, said that the quick advances against the IS represented “very much a rout for the group, considering that three weeks ago they were on the offensive. Now the area under their control is probably [just a small fraction] of what they previously held.”
Toaldo warned, however, that although they appeared to be surrounded, the IS militants could “stay there” for a long time. He also noted that the IS had withdrawn swiftly over the past week, and it was unclear where the fighters had gone.