(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
The UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) said that it wanted warplanes and helicopters to fight ISIS extremists on Tuesday, a day after world powers agreed to provide weapons to Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj’s government.
International backing to partially lift the arms embargo, which was in place since the 2011 ousting of Muammar Gaddafi, is “fundamental to the creation of a strong army… capable of fighting the jihadist Islamic State group and other extremist groups”, GNA deputy head Mussa Al Kony said to the AFP.
In a meeting between over 20 regional and European nations in Vienna on Monday, world powers agreed to Sarraj’s request to provide his government with arms so that the Libyan military is properly equipped to eradicate ISIS from Libya.
“State institutions have collapsed because the army itself fell apart. Our priority today is to unify this institution and revive it, but without weapons we cannot do this,” Kony said.
“What we want is to acquire all sorts of weaponry… but our priority is aircraft,” he said.
“We want pilots, helicopters and warplanes.”
US secretary of State John Kerry said, world powers will support the GNA’s exemption “from the UN arms embargo to acquire those weapons and bullets needed to fight Daesh (ISIS) and other terrorist groups.”
The Vienna summit proved that the international community overwhelmingly pledged their support to the GNA, which has been trying to unify Libya and assert its authority since its arrival in Tripoli at the end of March.
Western nations are keen on establishing security and stability in the oil rich country and stated that they had faith in the GNA to defeat ISIS and put a stop to the large flow of migrants crossing the Mediterranean from Libya to reach Europe.
The decision to provide arms and military training to the unity government comes at a time when Libyan forces are battling ISIS in the area between Misrata and Sirte in a military operation called “Albinyan Almarsos” which means Operation Strong Foundation.
On Tuesday, Libyan troops recaptured Abu Grein, which is a major crossroads where the highway along the Mediterranean meets the main road south into the desert interior.
The GNA has stated that their forces made major advances in their latest clashes with ISIS militants and that their troops were only 50 kilometers west of ISIS stronghold Sirte.
The operation room’s Facebook page stated that 7 soldiers were killed and 15 were wounded in landmine explosions.
ISIS militants overran the Abu Grein checkpoint on May 5, which prompted the GNA to establish its military operation base against ISIS in Misrata. A week ago the terrorist group launched another surprise suicide attack at the Sadada checkpoint, which marks their most recent attempts to advance into territory controlled by the unity government.