AFP.com/ Libya appeals for weapons to battle militias

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SHAFAQNA – Libya’s internationally recognised government on Monday appealed for weapons to combat militias which have seized parts of the oil-rich nation, at an emergency meeting of the Arab League.

“We call on the international community to assume its legal and moral responsibilities and to arm, without further delay, the Libyan army,” said Libya’s representative to the Cairo-based Arab League, Ashur Bou Rashed.

More than three years after dictator Moamer Kadhafi was toppled and killed in a NATO-backed revolt, Libya is awash with weapons and powerful militias, and it has rival governments and parliaments.

The internationally recognised government and the parliament elected in June have been based in the remote east since an Islamist-backed militia coalition, Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn), seized Tripoli last year.

Fajr Libya also controls third city Misrata, while much of second city Benghazi is also in the hands of militias.

Bou Rashed insisted on the need to score a “military victory over the brutal militias to prevent them from further expanding their influence across Libya” and help reach a political solution.

His comments came as the United Nations postponed peace talks it was hoping to hold Monday between Libya’s warring factions.

The talks were originally slated for December 9 but have been repeatedly delayed amid fighting in Libya.

In mid-December, Fajr Libya launched an assault to try to seize key oil terminals.

At least 22 pro-government forces were killed in fighting with the militias who fired a rocket that set ablaze tanks at Al-Sidra oil terminal. The military retaliated by raiding Misrata.

Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi voiced regret at the postponement of the UN-brokered talks.

“Our priority today is to adopt a decisive position that would lead to an immediate end to armed terrorist operations” in Libya, he said.

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