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Libyan premier urges lifting of arms embargo and release of frozen assets

Libya's new prime minister called on the international community to help the country bolster its fight against terrorism, urging the lifting of an arms embargo and release of funds frozen under United Nations sanctions.

The call was the latest move by the head of Libya's UN-backed government to assert authority, after it began to set itself up in a naval base in the capital, Tripoli, since Fayez al-Serraj's return to the country in March.

Mr al-Serraj has been unable to exercise much power beyond his office walls, much like his predecessors.

Mr al-Serraj, prime minister of the UN-backed Government of National Accord, told the Arab League in Cairo the Libyan people were suffering and needed both the arms and assets to battle the extremist Islamic State group.

"It doesn't make sense that the international community supports our war against terrorism, and forbids us from arming ourselves," he said.

The European Union has sought to boost Mr al-Serraj's authority. Western nations hope his government can unite the country in order to combat an increasingly powerful IS affiliate there.

IS militants gained a foothold in Libya amid the power struggle and security vacuum, taking over the central city of Sirte and carrying out deadly attacks across the country.

Libya has been torn apart among rival militias, tribes, governments and parliaments since the 2011 downfall of long-time autocrat Muammar Gaddafi in a Nato-backed rebellion.

Currently, the forces of Libya's rival powers in the east and west of the country are moving on the city of Sirte, vowing to free it from the hold of IS.

Each side aims to capture the central city as a way to gain advantage over the other but the danger is they could very well fight each other too.

Mr al-Serraj also met Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi during his trip, whose office said in a statement later that he wished Mr al-Serraj success, and would continue to support him and the Libyan army.

Egypt supports the lifting of the weapons embargo.

Mr al-Serraj also said the root causes of illegal immigration must be addressed.


From Belfast Telegraph