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Security Council Launches European Naval Operation to Monitor Arms Embargo on Libya | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Chief of Libya’s U.N.-backed government Fayez al-Sarraj

Cairo-The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday unanimously adopted a resolution allowing the European Union’s maritime force off Libya’s coast to seize illegal weapons that are helping to fuel violence and instability in the North African nation, including by ISIS extremists.

The British-drafted resolution adopted Tuesday authorizes EU ships in Operation Sophia that are now charged with seizing migrant-smuggling vessels to also stop ships on the high seas off Libya’s coast suspected of smuggling arms in violation of a U.N. arms embargo for an initial period of 12 months..

The U.N. Security Council imposed an arms embargo on Libya in 2011 when former leader Muammar Gaddafi’s forces cracked down on pro-democracy protesters.

U.N. sanctions monitors last year told the Security Council that Libya needed help from an international maritime force to halt the flow of weapons in and out of the country.

The Security Council reiterated its “grave concern” at the growing threat from “terrorist groups” in Libya proclaiming allegiance to ISIS and to al-Qaeda.

It expressed concern that foreigners heading to Libya to join these groups “can increase the intensity, duration and complexity of the conflict and pose a serious threat to their states of origin, transit and travel.”

Notably, forces affiliated with the government of the PM Fayez al-Sarraj are seeking to regain Sirte city from ISIS.

For his part, Sarraj called Libyans to support his forces in their battle to regain the occupied city whereas General Commander of the Libyan Army Khalifa Haftar preferred waiting without letting go of his ambition to liberate the city from ISIS.

Libyan militias involved in the liberation of Sirte from ISIS have made significant progress on all fronts and secured the areas taken away from the jihadists, a Facebook page for the operation to regain the city conducted by militias linked to the U.N.-backed government reported on Monday.

On the other hand, Asharq Al-Awsat was informed that military forces loyal to Haftar are still waiting for the outcomes of the current battle between Sarraj forces and ISIS militants before deciding their next step.