UN urges withdrawal of foreign forces, mercenaries from Libya

The United Nations Security Council has called for the withdrawal of all foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya “without further delay” in a unanimously approved declaration.

It also welcomed the Libyan parliament’s approval of a new unified government on Wednesday, which is set to lead the North African country to December elections after a decade of conflict following the removal of dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

“The Security Council calls on all parties to implement the ceasefire agreement in full and urges member states to respect and support the full implementation of the agreement,” the statement on Friday approved by all 15 council members said.

According to the global body, about 20,000 foreign troops and mercenaries remained in Libya at the end of 2020, and no withdrawals have been observed since.

“The Security Council calls for full compliance with the UN arms embargo by all member states, in line with the relevant Security Council resolutions,” the text said. Experts say the embargo has been repeatedly violated.

Libya, a major oil producer, has been mired in conflict since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising against Gaddafi.

The sometimes chaotic war has drawn in several outside powers and a floor of foreign arms and mercenaries.

Since 2015, the country has been split between the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and a rival administration in the east, allied to renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar.

In April 2019, Haftar and his self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), backed by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russia launched an offensive to try and capture Tripoli.

His campaign collapsed after Turkey stepped up its military support for the GNA, with hundreds of troops and thousands of mercenaries arriving from Syria.

A ceasefire agreement reached in October called for the withdrawal of all foreign forces and mercenaries in three months and adherence to a UN arms embargo, provisions which have not been met.

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