Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi denounced Sunday the declarations of the US ambassador to Rome regarding Italy’s intention to send 5,000 soldiers to Libya.
Renzi said the circumstances are not suitable for a military intervention in the former colony. “As long as I am the prime minister, Italy won’t send 5,000 soldiers to Libya,” he said in a televised interview.
US ambassador in Italy John Philip told Corriere della Sera newspaper that Rome may send troops to Libya. “We need to make Tripoli safe to ensure that [“Islamic State” (IS)] are not able to carry out attacks,” he said.
Italy is working with the West to convince the two rivalling parliaments to accept a new national unity government. The US recently carried out attacks on IS locations in Libya, while the UK, France, and Italy’s intelligence services are active in Libya, according to European media reports.
However, Libyan army spokesperson Mohamed Al-Hegazi told Daily News Egypt the US did not consult with the Libyan authorities. The Libyan government released a statement condemning the statements. “Any strikes must only be carried out after consultation with the Libyan army,” he said.
Rome is still resistant to requests to allow drones to carry out strikes in Libya, urging its allies to suspend their operations until the agreement on the new government. “If there is a need for intervention, Italy won’t retreat, but this is not the situation now,” Renzi said.
Earlier this week, militant forces were compelled to withdraw from several locations in Benghazi and the strategic port of Al-Meraysa Sunday, Libyan armed forces affiliated with the Tobruk parliament said.
The Libyan army said it regained control of the city of Ajdabiya, 150 km away from Benghazi. Over the past few months, IS has taken advantage of the current political unrest in Libya to spread their forces into several cities in the oil-rich country.
Violence in Libya persists as the UN is trying to support a political process to end the conflict between the two warring parliaments. The presidential council formed a new national unity government, but the Tobruk parliament is yet to vote on it.
Meanwhile, a British parliamentary delegation is visiting Egypt to investigate the UK military intervention in Libya in 2011 that helped oust former president Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. The delegation will later head to Tunisia on the same agenda.