The Address | Benghazi – Libya
PARIS – France’s Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, reaffirmed today that his country’s top priority in Libya is to fight terrorism.
France was the first to voice support for the Libyan National Army (LNA) following the launch of its military operation in Tripoli in early April. LNA’s operation aims to eliminate militias and terrorist groups which dominated the capital since 2011.
Speaking in an exclusive interview to Le Figaro, Le Drian said that fighting terrorism is France’s major concern in Libya and the wider region.
“For a long time, since the French operation Serval 2013 in Mali, we have realized that most weapons came from Libya and that many groups had back bases, starting with AQIM,” said Le Drian, using the acronym of the terror group Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
“Remember, al-Qaeda became dominant in Benghazi, US Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed in the same city in 2012, and Daesh [aka ISIS] then infiltrated Libyan territories,” he said.
“I had alerted from September 2014, in an interview with Le Figaro, on the terrorist risks and on the possibility of local implementation of Daesh. This is exactly what happened: Daesh occupied several Libyan cities and even threatened, at one time, to get its hands on the oil resources.”
Since May 2014, LNA, led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, conducted one military operation after another and successfully hunted ISIS and other terrorist groups from one city to the next.
LNA first defeated the so-called Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries, a militia alliance which included the group responsible for the attack that killed the U.S. ambassador, after two-month long battle in Benghazi.
In October 2014, the terrorist group ISIS took control of numerous government buildings, security vehicles and local landmarks in Derna. LNA launched a military operation in 2015 which successfully liberated the city from ISIS, Al-Qaeda and other extremist groups.
LNA forces and local police began to impose security in previously lawless cities one by one until finally dominating all of Cyrenaica and securing the country’s vital oil resources.
Earlier this year, LNA mobilized its forces towards the southern region of Fezzan in response to calls made by residents who suffered from the criminal acts of local militias and Chadian armed rebel groups. The residents of Fezzan quickly embraced LNA, which enabled its forces to take control of the region in less than three months.
LNA continues its territorial expansion with its recent operation to liberate Tripoli. In addition to France, other international powers such as the United States, Russia and China have signaled their support for LNA’s operation.