US to take action against IS threat in Libya “if needed”, UK no plans for boots on the round

Libya Channel and agencies

Britain does not plan to deploy combat troops in Libya but will instead seek to give strategic and intelligence support to its new government, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has said .

Islamic State forces have attacked Libya’s oil infrastructure and established a foothold in the city of Sirte, exploiting a prolonged power vacuum in a country where two rival governments have been battling for supremacy.

“We will certainly want to support the new Libyan government in any practical way we can but I don’t envisage that there will be a situation where we need or want to put combat troop boots on the ground,” Hammond told reporters in Rome.

“I don’t think we are likely to think that putting combat troops on the ground is a helpful contribution – there are plenty of armed men in Libya. What they need is organisation, command and control, air-gathered intelligence, strategic organisation.”

Shortly after he made his comments US President Barack Obama also appeared to backtrack on calls for war in the war-torn country. The White House said Wednesday that the United States will take unilateral action in the North African country to counter that threat only if necessary.

“If there is a need for the United States to take unilateral action to protect the American people, the president won’t hesitate to do that,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.

Earnest declined to comment on whether Obama had made any decisions on the possibility of sending ground troops into Libya, but said the president has “demonstrated a willingness to take decisive action,” even in Libya.

Islamic State forces have attacked Libya’s oil infrastructure and established a foothold in the city of Sirte, exploiting a power vacuum in the country where two rival governments have been battling for supremacy.

Libya’s two warring administrations are expected to form a unity government.

Earnest said the United States would support the unity government on a range of national security measures, but it was too early to say what form that assistance would take.

“The more that we can bolster the capacity of the national unity government to govern that country, the better off we will be,” he said.

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