The United Kingdom
has raised the possibility of using military force in Libya to help legitimate Libyan authorities bring the security situation in the country under control.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said on Sunday that he could not rule out sending troops to Libya if requested by Libya’s government.
“It wouldn’t make sense to rule anything out because you never know how things are going to evolve,” Hammond told The Sunday Telegraphnewspaper.
Hammond added that the UK
would consider military airstrikes and naval support for a Libyan-led attack on Daesh in Sirte, and that the future use of ground troops cannot be ruled out.
Daesh took control of Libya’s northern port city of Sirte in June 2015, making it the first city to be governed by the Takfiri militant group outside of Iraq and Syria.
outlets have reported that the special forces unit of the British Army, the SAS, is already operating in Libya, while it has also been suggested that up to 1,000 British troops could be sent to help train a new army.
The refusal by the British government to rule out military action in Libya is reportedly meant to promote the unity government formed for the country and led by Fayez Seraj, its prime minister.
Libya plunged into a political and security vacuum after militias backed by NATO forces toppled long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
A handout picture made available on the official Facebook media page of Fayez Seraj, the prime minister of the Libyan unity government, shows him (R) meeting with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, April 18, 2016. (Via AFP)
The Daesh terrorist group has taken advantage of the chaos, boosting its presence in the violence-wracked country and recruiting militant fighters from among members of local tribes, as well as enlisting former military personnel belonging to the ousted Gaddafi regime.
Since August 2014, when militias seized the capital city, Tripoli, Libya has been divided between two governments; one is run by the rebels in the capital and the other, which is internationally-recognized, is stationed in the far eastern Libyan city of Tobruk.
The unity government led by Seraj was formed out of an agreement by the two rival governments last December. It has been endorsed by the United Nations (UN). It has, however, had difficulty taking over.
NATO has also expressed willingness to provide military help in case Libya needed reinforcement to restore security.
The new unity government is also expected to stop the flow of refugees fleeing from war and persecution to Europe. Another major task ahead of the government is restoring the country’s oil industry, dilapidated by the violence and destruction.