Libya govt urges ‘intervention’ over southern clashes

Libya's UN-backed Prime Minister-designate, Fayez al-Sarraj. (AFP file photo)
Updated 17 April 2017
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Libya govt urges ‘intervention’ over southern clashes

TRIPOLI: Libya’s unity government has called for “urgent intervention” by the international community to end military escalation in its south, warning of a possible “civil war.”
For more than a week, militias allied to the UN-backed Government of National Accord have fought off rival forces trying to capture an airbase in the south of the North African country.
“We ask you to take a firm and decisive stance with regards to this escalation and we will support all decisions to re-establish security and stability in Libya,” GNA head Fayez Al-Sarraj wrote in a letter published Saturday.
Sarraj called for an “urgent intervention” from the international community “to end the deterioration of the situation in south Libya,” in an open letter addressed to bodies including the European Union, the United Nations and the Arab League.
He did not specify the nature of what form such intervention could take.
Clashes erupted last week after the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army, commanded by military strongman Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and loyal to Libya’s eastern authorities, battled to seize the Tamenhant air base from militias backing the GNA.
“This sudden and unjustified escalation... puts the country on the brink of civil war,” Sarraj said.
The GNA, which both Haftar and the eastern-based Parliament have refused to recognize, has announced a counter-offensive against the LNA.
The LNA has said the Tamenhant base was a launching pad for fighters who seized key oil terminals from its control last month, before the LNA retook them days later.
But the unity government has denied any link with the attacks on the oil facilities in Libya’s northeast.
The GNA, which was born of a UN-brokered deal signed in late 2015, has struggled to assert its authority nationwide since taking office in Tripoli in March last year.
Libya has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi, with rival militias and authorities vying for control of the oil-rich country.


US weighing options on American Daesh sympathizer in Syria

A member of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) stands guard on top of a building on February 17, 2019, in the frontline Syrian village of Baghuz. (AFP)
Updated 15 min 48 sec ago
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US weighing options on American Daesh sympathizer in Syria

  • Neither option would likely pass muster in the cases of US citizens, who enjoy strong legal protections under the Constitution

WASHINGTON: The United States said Tuesday it wanted to ensure foreign terrorists remain off the battlefield as it weighed options on an American detained in Syria who says she wants to return home.
The United States has urged European powers to take back hundreds of their citizens who fought with the Daesh group in Syria, but acknowledged the situation was complex in the rare case of an American terrorist.
Hoda Muthana, a 24-year-old from Alabama who became a prominent online agitator for the extremists, said in an interview published Sunday with The Guardian that she had been brainwashed online and “deeply regrets” joining the movement.
While declining to discuss Muthana’s case specifically, State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino said that the status of US citizens detained in Syria “is by definition extremely complicated.”
“We’re looking into these cases to better understand the details,” he told reporters.
Palladino said that the United States generally did not see a different solution between what to do with US fighters and with foreigners, saying the fighters pose “a global threat.”
“Repatriating these foreign terrorist fighters to their countries of origin, ensuring that they are prosecuted and detained — that’s the best solution, preventing them from returning to the battlefield,” he said.
The situation of foreign terrorists detained by US-allied Kurdish forces has taken a new urgency as President Donald Trump plans to withdraw US troops from Syria.
The Syrian Democratic Forces say they may have to refocus on fighting Turkey, which has vowed to crush Kurdish fighters it links to separatists at home.
Trump has contemplated reopening the US military base at Guantanamo Bay to take in new foreign inmates, while Britain on Tuesday revoked the citizenship of a female terrorsist who wanted to return home with her newborn baby.
Neither option would likely pass muster in the cases of US citizens, who enjoy strong legal protections under the Constitution.
Muthana, who was married three times to terrorists and has a son with one of her husbands, fled her family in 2014 to join the Daesh group in Syria, where she took to Twitter to urge attacks on fellow Americans.
In the interview with The Guardian, Muthana said that she was “really young and ignorant” when she joined Daesh and has since renounced radicalism.
“I believe that America gives second chances. I want to return and I’ll never come back to the Middle East,” she told the newspaper.
Hassan Shilby, a lawyer for Muthana, told ABC television’s “Good Morning America” that the young woman had been “brainwashed and manipulated” and is “absolutely disgusted” by the person she became.