Hammond says UK to send no combat troops to Libya

Britain’s foreign secretary says his country will not deploy combat troops to Libya

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond attends a press conference with Mohammad al-Ammari, a member of the Government of National Accord (GNA), in Tripoli on April 18, 2016.

Britain has no plans to send combat troops to Libya, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said on Tuesday, replying to media reports that British special forces were already operating in the country.

"I am clear that there is no appetite in Libya for foreign combat troops on the ground," Hammond told parliament on his return from a visit to the new UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli.

"We do not anticipate any requests from the GNA for ground combat forces to take on DAESH or any other armed groups and we have no plans to deploy troops in such a role," he added.

Hammond is the latest European foreign minister to visit Libya after those of Italy, France and Germany.

During his visit this week, Hammond offered the GNA 10 million pounds ($14.4 million) in support and voiced Britain was ready to offer further technical assistance.

A handout pictures made available on the official Facebook media page of Fayez al-Sarraj, prime minister of the UN-backed unity government, shows him (R) meeting with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond on April 18, 2016. [AFP]

Hammond's visit came as Libya's internationally recognised parliament, under international pressure to endorse the GNA, was due to hold a crucial vote of confidence.

On Monday, Libya's new prime minister Fayez Seraj called for European help to combat people-smugglers but stopped short of making the formal invitation the EU says it needs to move its Mediterranean naval mission into Libyan waters to hamper a new wave of refugees.

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.

Previous training efforts ran into difficulties in 2012 and 2013 when Italy and Turkey commenced training police and, along with Britain and the United States, planned to build a force of 8,000 troops.

Those programmes failed due to militia infighting and political squabbling among Libyan factions.

TRTWorld and agencies