Libya demands mercenary pullout; Syrian militia on its way

Libyan Foreign Minister Najla al-Mangoush calls for ‘immediate’ departure of all foreign fighters from Libya.

Libya’s new unity government has demanded the “immediate” withdrawal of all foreign mercenaries ahead of year-end elections in a call backed by the visiting top diplomats of France, Germany and Italy.

The North African country descended into chaos after dictator Muammar Gaddafi was toppled and killed in a 2011 NATO-backed uprising, resulting in multiple forces vying for power.

Fighting only came to a halt last year and a formal ceasefire in October was followed by the establishment of a unity government led by interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah.

The presence of an estimated 20,000 foreign fighters and mercenaries on Libya’s territory is seen as a threat to the UN-backed transition leading to December 24 elections.

“We reiterate the need for the departure of all mercenaries from Libya, and immediately,” Libyan Foreign Minister Najla al-Mangoush said at a Tripoli news conference, joined by her French, German and Italian counterparts, on Thursday.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian echoed her call.

“The departure of the mercenaries is essential for the Libyan state to assert its sovereignty,” Le Drian said. “We cannot look away from the consequences that the Libyan crisis may have in Europe in terms of security, terrorism and migration.”

 

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