Libya Strongman Leaves Moscow Without Signing Ceasefire Deal

This handout picture released by the Russian Foreign Ministry on January 13, 2020 shows Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) welcoming Libya's military strongman Khalifa Haftar (L) in Moscow. HO / RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY / AFP
This handout picture released by the Russian Foreign Ministry on January 13, 2020 shows Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) welcoming Libya’s military strongman Khalifa Haftar (L) in Moscow. HO / RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY / AFP

 

Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar left Moscow on Tuesday without signing a ceasefire agreement aimed at ending nine months of fighting, leaving the future of a fragile truce uncertain.

The commander’s abrupt departure in the early hours of Tuesday was a setback for an international diplomatic push in recent days, though Moscow insisted it would continue mediation efforts.

Haftar and his allies were in Moscow on Monday for talks with the UN-recognised government headed by Fayez al-Sarraj and based in Tripoli.

Sarraj’s government has been under attack since last April from forces loyal to Haftar, who is based in the east of the oil-rich North African country with his own loyalist politicians.

The two sides agreed to a ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey that took effect at the weekend and were in Moscow to sign a long-term agreement.

The talks raised hopes of an end to the latest fighting to wrack Libya since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising killed longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

READ ALSO: Libya Warlords Meet In Moscow To Sign Ceasefire Deal

But after seven hours of negotiations, only Sarraj had signed on to the agreement and Russian officials confirmed to AFP that Haftar’s delegation had left without signing the deal.

“We will pursue our efforts in this direction. For now, a definitive result has not been achieved,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a press conference in Sri Lanka.

Russia, European powers and Libya’s neighbours “are working in the same vein and motivating all Libyan sides to agree rather than continue sorting things out by force”, Lavrov said.

Russian state news agency RIA Novosti quoted a source in Haftar’s stronghold Benghazi as saying he did not sign because the agreement did not spell out a timeline for disbanding groups allied with Sarraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA).

Opposing sides

Western powers are keen to stabilise Libya — home to Africa’s largest proven crude reserves — following years of turbulence since the 2011 killing of Kadhafi.

Since the start of the offensive against Tripoli, more than 280 civilians and about 2,000 fighters have been killed and 146,000 Libyans displaced, according to the United Nations.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a joint call for a ceasefire, which started at midnight Sunday and was welcomed by the United Nations.

The leaders of Turkey and France on Monday called for a more permanent truce which would pave the way for a political process, while Germany was preparing a summit on Libya this month.

Putin late on Monday discussed the talks in Moscow with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Kremlin said, following her visit to Moscow Saturday.

Turkey and Russia’s diplomatic initiative came despite the countries being seen as supporting opposing sides.

Ankara dispatched troops — in a training capacity, it said — to support the GNA in January in a move criticised by European powers and US President Donald Trump.

The GNA has signed agreements with Ankara assigning Turkey rights over a vast area of the eastern Mediterranean, in a deal denounced by France, Greece, Egypt and Cyprus.

Russia has been accused of backing pro-Haftar forces, which are supported by the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt — all regional rivals of Turkey.

Several hundred Russian mercenaries are reported to be in Libya supporting Haftar. Putin said any Russians in the country are not in Moscow’s pay.

 

AFP

Libya Warlords Meet In Moscow To Sign Ceasefire Deal

A fighter loyal to the internationally recognised Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) walks past a vehicle in an area south of the Libyan capital Tripoli on January 12, 2020. Mahmud TURKIA / AFP

 

The heads of Libya’s warring sides were to meet in Moscow on Monday to sign a ceasefire deal ending nine months of heavy fighting.

The meeting follows a diplomatic push by Turkey and Russia, which is keen to bolster its status as a powerbroker in the Middle East and step into a diplomatic void left by what observers see as a partial US retreat.

The two sides are expected to sign an agreement on the terms of a ceasefire that took effect over the weekend, raising hopes of an end to the fighting that has wracked the oil-rich North African country since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising killed longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

The UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, headed by Fayez al-Sarraj, has been under attack since last April from forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar, who is based in the east of the country.

Haftar and Sarraj were to meet in Moscow for talks along with “representatives of other Libyan sides”, the Russian foreign ministry said, with Turkey and Russia’s foreign and defence ministers acting as mediators.

Russian news agencies reported representatives of the two sides had arrived for talks, but it was unclear if Haftar and Sarraj would meet face-to-face.

The ceasefire initiative was launched by President Vladimir Putin and Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who jointly called for a truce in Istanbul last week.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Putin on Saturday and he supported her drive to hold a peace conference sponsored by the United Nations in Berlin soon.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was also due in Turkey on Monday to discuss the situation in Libya with Erdogan.

‘Turn page on past’

Sarraj on Monday called on Libyans to “turn the page on the past, reject discord and to close ranks to move towards stability and peace”.

His comments came after a ceasefire began at midnight on Sunday (2200 GMT on Saturday) in line with Putin and Erdogan’s joint call.

Sarraj confirmed the ceasefire had taken effect.

Since the start of the offensive against Tripoli, more than 280 civilians and about 2,000 fighters have been killed and 146,000 Libyans displaced, according to the United Nations.

Turkey and Russia’s diplomatic offensive came despite the countries being seen as supporting opposing sides.

Ankara dispatched troops — in a training capacity, it said — to support the GNA in January in a move criticised by leading European powers including Britain and France and US President Donald Trump.

Russia has been accused of backing pro-Haftar forces, which are supported by the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt — all regional rivals of Turkey.

Several hundred Russian mercenaries are reported to be in Libya supporting Haftar but Putin said on Saturday that any Russians in the country were not in Moscow’s pay.

‘Second Syria’

The head of Libya’s High Council of State, Khaled al-Mechri, said the ceasefire would pave the way for the revival of the political process.

The head of Russia’s contact group to Tripoli, Lev Dengov, said the two rivals would have to determine in the Russian capital “the terms of the future settlement in Libya, including the possibility of signing an agreement on the ceasefire and its details”.

“They will have separate meetings with Russian officials and emissaries of the Turkish delegation, which is cooperating with Russia on this issue,” said Dengov, quoted by Russian news agencies.

“Representatives of the United Arab Emirates and Egypt will probably be present as observers at the talks.”

Europe and North Africa have also launched a diplomatic offensive to try to prevent Libya, with the increased involvement of international players in its conflict, from turning into a “second Syria”.

European governments, including former colonial power Italy, fear that Islamist militants and migrant smugglers, already highly active in Libya, will take further advantage of the chaos.

King Abdullah of Jordan on Monday warned that thousands of fighters have left Syria for Libya and “that is something we in the region but also our European friends will have to address in 2020”.

 

AFP

Erdogan Says Turkish Soldiers Are Deploying To Libya

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan / AFP

 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said Turkish soldiers had begun deploying to Libya after parliament approved such a move last week.

“Our soldiers’ duty there is coordination. They will develop the operation centre there. Our soldiers are gradually going right now,” he told CNN Turk broadcaster during an interview.

The Turkish parliament passed a bill allowing the government to send troops to Libya aimed at shoring up the UN-recognised government in Tripoli.

The Tripoli government has come under sustained attack since military strongman general Khalifa Haftar launched his offensive in April.

Haftar is backed by Turkey’s regional rivals, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, while the UN-backed government has the support of Ankara and its ally Qatar.

Erdogan said Turkey’s objective was “not to fight”, but “to support the legitimate government and avoid a humanitarian tragedy”.

Turkey’s move comes after the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord made a formal request for military support.

Libya and Turkey signed security and maritime agreements in November last year, angering Mediterranean countries including Greece and Cyprus who also seek to exploit energy resources in the region.

Air Raid Kills Three In Libya

Libyans inspect a damaged building following a reported airstrike in the capital Tripoli’s suburb of Tajoura, on December 29, 2019.
Mahmud TURKIA / AFP

 

Three civilians were killed Wednesday in an air raid on a town south of Libya’s capital Tripoli, a spokesman for the UN-recognised government said.

“Three were killed and three wounded in an air raid on Al-Sawani,” Amin al-Hachemi, spokesman for the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord, told AFP.

Al-Sawani lies around 25 kilometres (15 miles) south of the capital and under GNA control.

Tripoli’s southern suburbs have been hit by deadly fighting since eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive against the capital in early April.

READ ALSO: Dozens Of Monkeys Die In German Zoo New Year’s Eve Fire

Several shops were badly damaged in the air raid, Hachemi said.

On their Facebook page, forces loyal to the GNA published pictures of badly damaged buildings and vehicles and accused pro-Haftar forces of carrying out the raid.

GNA forces said in a statement that they had captured 25 pro-Haftar fighters on Wednesday.

Libya has been mired in conflict since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi, with rival administrations in the east and west vying for power.

According to UN figures published last month, clashes around Tripoli since April 4 have killed more than 280 civilians and 2,000 fighters, while over 140,000 people have been forced to flee their homes.

AFP

Turkey Says Will Not Withdraw From Army Posts In Syria’s Idlib

 

 

Turkey will not withdraw from its observation posts in the Syrian rebel bastion province of Idlib which has seen an increase in violence carried out by regime forces supported by Russian airstrikes, the defence minister said.

The posts were established under a September 2018 deal between Syrian regime ally Moscow and Ankara, which backs the rebels, to avert an all-out Syrian government onslaught in Idlib.

President Bashar al-Assad’s forces surrounded one of 12 Turkish observation posts in Idlib province on Monday after overrunning nearby areas in a push to take the last opposition holdout, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

“We respect the agreement reached with Russia and we expect Russia to abide by this agreement,” Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said in comments published on Sunday on the defence ministry’s Twitter account.

“We will by no means empty those 12 observation posts, we will not leave there,” Akar said.

READ ALSO: Two Dead, 2,500 Seek Emergency Shelter In Cyclone-Battered Fiji

His comments came during a visit, together with top army commanders, to the southern province of Hatay on the Syrian border to inspect Turkish troops on Saturday.

Turkey, worried over a new wave of refugees from the Idlib region, is pressing for a fresh ceasefire deal, as it sent a delegation to Moscow on Monday.

“We are doing what’s needed to put an end to this massacre,” Akar was quoted as saying by the official news agency Anadolu.

He said Ankara expected Damascus ally Russia to “use its influence on the regime in order to stop ground and air assault” in Idlib.

The latest violence has displaced more than 235,000 people and killed scores of civilians, despite an August ceasefire deal and international calls for a de-escalation.

The Idlib region hosts some three million people including many displaced by years of violence in other parts of Syria.

“As long as this pressure remains in place, it will trigger a new migrant wave and put further burden on Turkey which is already hosting nearly four million Syrian brothers,” said Akar.

Around 300 protesters — mostly Syrians living in Turkey — held an anti-Moscow demonstration near the Russian consulate in Istanbul on Saturday against the intensified attacks in Idlib, shouting “murderer Putin, get out of Syria!”, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Libya timetable

Akar’s visit to soldiers on the border region comes as Turkey is also readying to send troops to support the UN-recognised government in Tripoli against strongman Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army.

“The Turkish Armed Forces are ready for whatever task is given in order to protect our country and people’s interests,” Akar said.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday said Ankara would respond to an invitation from the Libyan national unity government and that the Turkish parliament would vote on a motion to send troops as soon as it returns from recess as early as next month.

Ankara signed in November a security and military cooperation deal with the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) but in order to send troops, parliament needs to vote through a motion as it does for Iraq and Syria.

Anadolu news agency, citing sources in Erdogan’s ruling party, reported that the timetable could be brought forward and the motion could be presented to the parliamentary speaker’s office on Monday.

The General Assembly could vote the measure in an extraordinary session on Thursday, it said. Parliament is due to return from recess on January 7.

Two Killed In Air Strike On Shopping Area In Libya

Libya
Libyans check the site of an air strike on December 26, 2019, in the town of Zawiya, 45 kilometres (30 miles) west of Tripoli which killed at least two civilians and wounded 20 others, a local official said. It comes amid heightened tensions between the UN-recognised government of National Accord based in Tripoli and rival forces answering to strongman Khalifa Haftar who is based in the country’s east, and as Turkey said it could deploy troops in Libya to support the GNA. AFP

 

At least two civilians have been killed while 20 others were wounded in an air strike on a shopping area during rush hour near Libya’s capital.

According to the mayor of the town, Jamal Baher, the airstrike which occurred on Thursday on the town of Zawiya, 45 kilometres (30 miles) west of Tripoli, hit a pharmacy, a bakery and cars parked on the street.

“Two people were killed and 20 others were wounded,” he told AFP.

The airstrike took place as the area was busy with shoppers ahead of the weekend, which starts Friday in the North African country.

It comes amid fighting between the Tripoli-based, UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and rival forces answering to strongman Khalifa Haftar, who is based in the country’s east.

Tensions have further spiked in recent weeks as Turkey said it could deploy troops in Libya to support the GNA.

Earlier on Thursday, GNA Interior Minister, Fathi Bashaga, said his government may officially seek Turkish military support to counter an offensive on Tripoli launched by Haftar in April.

Haftar has “provided foreign forces with military bases in Libya,” Bashagha told journalists in the Tunisian capital Tunis.

“If this position continues, we have the right to defend Tripoli and we will officially ask the Turkish government for its military support,” he added.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is in Tunisia to discuss the conflict in Libya, said his country’s parliament will vote in January on a motion to send troops to Libya to support the GNA.

“God willing, we will pass it in parliament on January 8-9 and thus respond to an invitation” from the GNA, said Erdogan.

His comments come after the Turkish parliament on Saturday ratified a security and military cooperation deal with the GNA.

Libya was plunged into chaos with the toppling and killing of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi in a 2011 NATO-backed uprising.

It has since become divided between two main camps: the GNA and a rival administration in the country’s east, backed by Haftar.

The GNA on Thursday accused Haftar’s forces of carrying out the deadly airstrike on Zawiya.

There was no immediate comment from Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army.

At least 284 civilians have been killed and 363 wounded since Haftar launched his offensive to seize Tripoli, according to UN figures. Tens of thousands have been displaced from their homes.

Libya War Displaces Thousands In Tripoli

Displaced Libyans fill water bottles from a tank outside an unfinished building in the Libyan capital Tripoli on December 18, 2019. Mahmud TURKIA / AFP

 

 

Layla Mohammed barely had time to gather her children’s belongings before fleeing their southern Tripoli home when shelling targeted the Libyan capital’s outskirts earlier this year.

For months she moved her family between apartments as soaring rents in the crowded city exhausted her savings, eventually leaving them squatting in an unfinished building alongside dozens of other families.

More than 140,000 Libyans like Mohammed have fled their homes since April when forces loyal to eastern-based strongman Khalifa Haftar launched an assault on Tripoli, seat of the UN-recognised government.

In central Tripoli, the grey skeletons of a highrise construction site — abandoned since 2008 due to a property dispute — now host more than 170 families.

For some, the high rises in Tarik al-Sekka were “a gift from heaven”, since the alternative was living in the street.

But “we live like animals — without running water, electricity, or even sewerage,” said Mohammed, a mother of seven.

Her youngest son is sick with a chronic respiratory illness. “The dust will kill him,” Mohammed despaired.

“All we want is to live in dignity,” she said.

Neighbour Samira crowds her four children into a single room in a nearby building, preferring the greater warmth it affords over any sense of privacy.

She feels safe in the eight square metre room, which thanks to a benefactor has a door and a window. “Even if it’s not ideal, at least it’s free,” she said.

Initially, Samira was determined to stay in her southern Tripoli home, even as combat crept closer over the months.

But when a rocket fell near her house the terror became too much and she fled, she said.

– ‘Breaks my heart’ –

The buildings sheltering Samira and Mohammed are just metres from the seat of the Government of National Accord (GNA).

But authorities have done little to help.

Mayssoun al-Diab is in charge of displacement issues for the GNA’s crisis committee but admits “the government has offered them nothing, not even moral support”.

According to her, the government was unable to find shelter for all the displaced, leaving many at the mercy of avaricious lenders.

Her committee requisitioned schools, public buildings and hotels to house the displaced, but faced with an ever-growing influx as the battle dragged on, more and more families found themselves homeless.

When school resumed, the situation got worse. After living for months in one Tripoli school, Khairi al-Doukali said his family was “evicted alongside dozens of other families” to allow classes to restart.

Eventually, the Doukali family also ended up on the Tarik al-Sekka building site.

In the face of government inaction, civic-minded Tripoli residents have responded to heartfelt pleas online and stepped in to help.

Every day people give food, clothing and blankets, according to Salem el-Chatti, a member of a neighbourhood support group.

“We try to distribute donated items in a fair manner,” he said.

A man named Abdel-Atti arrives to donate a mattress and blankets.

“I pass by these buildings every day,” he said.

“It breaks my heart that my kids are fed and sleep warm inside while our brothers are experiencing this tragedy.”

AFP

Illegal Migration: 15,731 Nigerians Returned From 16 Countries In Two Years – NEMA

Photo: NEMA

 

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has revealed that a total of 15,731 returnees have been brought back to Nigeria from 16 countries since April 2017 to date.

According to the Acting Coordinator of NEMA Lagos Territorial Office, Ibrahim Farinloye, Nigerian nationals returned from Libya remains the highest number with 8,096 males and 5,788 females.

Mr. Farinloye, while receiving a fresh batch of 168 distressed and stranded Nigerians from Libya on Friday morning at the Murtala Muhammed Airport Cargo Wing, stated that a special intervention by the IOM with the support of EU has successfully returned the illegal migrants during the two years review.

Other countries in the list include; Niger Republic – 1,043 males and 556 females; Morocco – 42 males, 37 females; Liberia 8 males and 4 females; Burkina Faso 6 males and 18 females.

READ ALSO: DSS Releases Sowore, Bakare

He added that countries like France had 3 males and 1 female, while Ireland had only 1 female. But countries like Poland, Austria, Gambia, Mauritania, and Ethiopia had 1 male each.

Chad had only 1 male and 2 female, while Cote d’Ivoire had only 2 females brought back within the periods.

Adult males formed an estimated 54 percent, the adult female stands at 37 percent, while male and female minors were at 4 percent each.

He further gave a breakdown of states of origin for distressed migrants returned in the year in review.

Edo topped the list with 40.6 percent, while Delta came second with 13.3 percent and Ogun made the third on the list with 6.2 percent.

Other states include; Imo 4.7 percent; Lagos 4.3 percent; Oyo 4.1 percent; Yobe 3.6 percent; Kano 3.1 percent and Osun with 2.9 percent.

On the state of the health conditions, Mr. Farinloye revealed that 31 males and 21 females suffered various degree tortures while in detention in Libya.

He added that the number of unaccompanied minors assisted back into the country stood at 66 males and 67 females.

Those who were kidnapped out of Nigeria, but assisted back had 79 males and 31 females. Single parents had 41 males and 616 females.

Stating further, Mr. Farinloye revealed that the total number of pregnant women brought back in the year in review stood at 439 while 592 males and 804 females were returned with various medical issues.

He wrapped up the breakdown with the number of migrants assisted back into the country with psychosocial needs, revealing that the number of males remained 523, while females have reached 470.

The fresh voluntary returnees had 38 adult females, 5 female children, 109 adult males, 6 male children, and 10 infants.

Turkey, UN-Backed Libya Govt Sign Military Deal

A handout picture taken and released on November 27, 2019, by the Turkish Presidential Press service shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) shaking hands with Fayez al-Sarraj (L), the head of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), during their meeting in Istanbul. Mustafa Kamaci / TURKISH PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE / AFP

 

 

Turkey signed a military deal late Wednesday with Libya’s UN-recognised government following a meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul, his office said.

Erdogan met with the head of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), Prime Minister Fayed al-Sarraj, to sign agreements on security and military cooperation, as well as maritime jurisdictions.

“We are confident that we will improve the security situation for the Libyan people together,” Fahrettin Altun, communications director at the Turkish presidency, wrote on Twitter.

He called on other countries to support the GNA.

“Stability of Libya is critically important for the safety of Libyans, regional stability, and prevention of international terrorism,” Altun tweeted.

The deal comes despite calls from the Arab League — which includes Libya — to end cooperation with Turkey in protest at its military offensive against Kurdish forces in Syria last month.

Libya has been mired in chaos since a NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE back Khalifa Haftar, a military strongman in eastern Libya who launched an offensive in April in a bid to seize Tripoli from fighters loyal to the GNA.

Turkey and Qatar openly support his rival Sarraj.

AFP

NEMA Receives 173 Nigerian Returnees From Libya

A total number of 173 stranded Nigerians on Tuesday morning returned from Libya and they were received by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

The returnees who arrived in the country on two different flights were received by the NEMA coordinator, Lagos territorial office, Alhaji Idris Abubakar Muhammed at the cargo wing of the Murtala Muhammed International airport, Ikeja.

Profiling of the returnees indicated that they were 106 adult males, 52 adult females, four female children, two male children, four female infants, and five male infants.

Twenty-one of the returnees had medical issues.

One of the returnees, Miss Aishat Areni narrated how she was lured by a trafficker with a promise of travelling to New York City, USA to practice catering.

Contrary to the promise, Areni said on arrival in Libya, she was forced into domestic labour and prostitution.

The returnee advised those planning to travel to Libya that it’s a dangerous country, where kidnapping, murder, robbery and bombings are rife.

Three Children Killed In Libya Air Strike

Libyans check the site of an air strike in which three children were killed and others wounded on the southern outskirts of the capital Tripoli on October 14, 2019./AFP

 

At least three children were killed and eight civilians wounded Monday in an airstrike on a residential neighbourhood near the Libyan capital, the health ministry said.

Spokesman Lamine al-Hachemi said another child was seriously wounded and the parents of the dead children were also injured in the airstrike that hit their home in Al-Fernaj, a suburb southeast of Tripoli.

Five other civilians were wounded in the attack.

Libya’s UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) accused forces of strongman Khalifa Haftar of launching the “criminal” airstrike.

“This criminal act carried out by the aircraft of the war criminal (Haftar), is the latest in a series of attacks that have targeted airports, public and private buildings and… terrorised civilians,” it said on Facebook.

Ahmad al-Mismari, the spokesman for pro-Haftar forces who control eastern Libya, said an airstrike was carried out against “a camp of the intelligence services in Al-Fernaj” but he denied that a house or civilians were targeted.

Haftar launched an offensive to capture Tripoli, seat of the GNA, in April but since then frontlines have barely shifted.

The GNA urged the international community to take a “firm and dissuasive position” against Haftar and called on the UN mission in Libya to step in and protect civilians in line with international resolutions.

US Kills 17 Suspected IS Jihadists In Libya Strike

 

 

The US military command for Africa announced Friday it killed 17 suspected Islamic State group jihadists in southern Libya, in the third such strike in a week.

“At this time, it is assessed the airstrike killed 17 terrorists” on Thursday, Africom said in a statement.

It said its anti-IS campaign in Libya was “ongoing” and that strikes were being conducted “in coordination” with the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli.

Africom “continues to support diplomatic efforts to stabilise the political situation in Libya in order to maintain our common focus on disrupting terrorist organisations that threaten regional stability”, the statement said.

The previous two air strikes were carried out on September 19 and 24 near Murzuq, an oasis town some 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) south of Tripoli, killing eight and 11 IS “terrorists” respectively, according to Africom.

Libya’s desert south lies outside the control of the GNA and of rival forces loyal to eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar, even though the latter allege to have a presence there.

Since the start of an anti-GNA offensive launched by Haftar on April 4 to take Tripoli, analysts have warned of a security vacuum that could benefit IS in other parts of the country.