Russia has no plans for ISIS fight in Libya but France keen to extend

Undated frame grab taken from video presentation by Russian Defence Ministry during a briefing in Moscow. (Reuters)

Russia has no plans to carry out air strikes in Libya, a stronghold of ISIS militants, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday.

“This is not in our plans. We have had no requests of this kind from the government of Libya ... and there is no government of Libya as such,” Lavrov told a news conference during a visit to Italy.

Lavrov also said Russia sees a U.S.-led coalition hitting ISIS militants in Syria as a potentially effective partner in the Arab republic.

Earlier, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Friday that international efforts to crush ISIS will increasingly have to extend to Libya where the militants are getting a hold.

“We are at war, we have an enemy, Daesh, that we must fight and crush in Syria, in Iraq and soon in Libya too,” Valls said, using an Arabic acronym for the group.

Speaking four weeks since ISIS gunmen and suicide bombers attacked Paris, Valls told France Inter radio the threat of further outrages remained “because we have hundreds, even thousands of young people who have succumbed to radicalization.”

French planes carried out surveillance flights over Libya last week.

Libya has slipped into chaos since the fall of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011 which ISIS has exploited. The U.N. believes 2,000 to 3,000 fighters are operating there, including 1,500 in the coastal city of Sirte.

International talks will take place in Rome on Sunday aimed at helping the country form a unified government.

France intensified its air strikes on ISIS’s stronghold in Syria after the group claimed responsibility for attacking Paris.

(With Reuters, AFP)

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:47 - GMT 06:47