The Address | Benghazi – Libya
TRIPOLI – Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Ghassan Salamé, acknowledged that there is a presence by terrorist militias in southern Libya, after he faced backlash over a previous statement in which he denounced the operation by the Libyan National Army (LNA) to liberate the south.
In a statement published by UNSMIL, Salamé said that his previous statement “was given a lot of misinterpretations”
“There are two things in which the Mission’s doesn’t compromise its position; the first is the fight against terrorism in Libya, which is necessary and legitimate. The mission supports it unreservedly. The second is the protection of civilians. In the event of any fighting, we call for the application of international humanitarian law,” he said.
“Combating terrorism is a legitimate red line. Protecting civilians is a legitimate red line. We believe that there are a number of terrorist bases that must be fought and we ask all parties to join together in fighting them.”
Salamé initially denounced “the escalating cycle of statements and counter-statements” without clarifying that these counter-statements have come only from Chadian armed rebel groups which carried out attacks against Libya’s citizens and its institutions and which its fighters had arrest warrants issued against them by Tripoli’s Attorney General.
Salamé’s initial statement was tone-deaf, considering the fact that LNA’s operation is widely supported by Libyans in general and by the southern region’s tribes in particular.
Thus, the statement was met with public outcry in Libya with many Libyans campaigning on social media under the slogan ‘Get Out’ to demand Salamé’s resignation.
LNA’s operation in the south has produced effective results less than a week after its launch. Three prominent commanders of the terrorist group ISIS were killed by LNA forces; Abdel Moneim Al-Hasnawi, known as Abu Talha, Mahdi Dengu, and the Egyptian terrorist Abdullah Al-Desouki.
The security situation in the southern region is starting to recover following LNA’s operation, with the Security Directorate of Sabha resuming its work for the first time in five years.