France rules out sending forces to tackle DAESH in Libya

French Foreign Minister Jean Marc-Ayrault rules out military involvement in Libya and says France could help secure new UN-backed government

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault speaks during his visit in Tunis, Tunisia March 18, 2016.

France’s foreign minister on Friday refused launching air strikes or sending troops on the ground to tackle DAESH in Libya, but said it could help secure the UN-backed national unity government in Tripoli.

"We shouldn't make the same mistakes as in the past. If you're imagining air strikes, ground troops, that's not on the table. It's not France's position anyway," Jean-Marc Ayrault told France Info radio.

"However, to secure the government, if Mr (Fayez) Seraj (head of the unity government) asks for international help then we'll study it."

Western powers are backing the unity government, expecting it will need foreign support to fight with DAESH militants, handle migrant flows from Libya to Europe and restore oil production of the country.

Diplomatic sources have said that so far there has been no request from Seraj other than to help him leave the country should the security situation in Tripoli deteriorate.

Ayrault said this week that France hopes to reopen its embassy as soon as possible as a sign of support for Libya's new unity government.

"Yesterday, I spoke to Mr Seraj, who invited me to come to Libya. As soon as the conditions are right, I shall go," Ayrault said.

Paris substantially involved in air campaign conducted by some NATO member countries that toppled former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 but later regretted the lack of support given to the authorities afterwards.

French aircrafts are now conducting reconnaissance flights over Libya while French military advisers cooperate in the ground in conjunction with Britain and the United States.

The future of Libya's new UN-backed unity government was put in doubt on Wednesday, after Prime Minister Khalifa Ghweil of the country’s Tripoli-based National Salvation Government backtracked on an earlier promise to cede power.

Libya is currently divided between the control of two rival parliaments, the General National Congress (GNC) in the capital Tripoli and the rival House of Representatives, operating from the eastern city of Tobruk, each backed by their own militias.

The international community has pleaded with Libya's warring sides to unite behind the unity government, which it sees as vital to tackling expansion of the DAESH terrorist group and rampant people smuggling in the North African state.

TRTWorld and agencies