UK could send troops 'if Libya requests'

British Foreign Secretary Hammond says Britain cannot rule out sending troops to Libya if requested by UN-backed government

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond speaking in Washington DC, United States.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said on Sunday that he cannot rule out sending troops to Libya if requested to do so by the new Libyan government, but that any deployment would need to be approved by the UN-backed parliament.

Western powers are backing a UN-backed Libyan unity government, Government of National Accord (GNA), hoping it will seek foreign support to confront DAESH terrorists, deal with refugee flows from Libya to Europe and restore oil production to shore up Libya's economy.

"It wouldn't make sense to rule anything out because you never know how things are going to evolve," Hammond told UK-based the Sunday Telegraph newspaper.

"But if there were ever any question of a British combat role in any form -ground, sea or air- that would go to the House of Commons," he said referring to Britain's elected parliament.

Last week Hammond told parliament there were no plans to send combat troops to Libya, responding to media reports that British special forces were already operating in the country.

Libya has been in chaos since an uprising resulted in the deposing and killing of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Hammond said he did not think it was likely that Libya would invite foreign military intervention, but highlighted the risk that a DAESH stronghold in the country could pose to mainland Europe.

"If DAESH became established in Libya and sought to use that established base to infiltrate terrorists into Europe, that would be a threat to all of us," he said.

TRTWorld, Reuters