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Putin blames NATO for destruction of Libya, warns about flow of terrorists from Syria

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in Rome, July 4, 2019. (Photo by Reuters)

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the US-led NATO military alliance is to blame for the destruction of Libya, warning that the situation there was deteriorating as more and more militants are moving from Syria into the North African country.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in Rome, Putin said it is important to recall how the chaos unfolded in Libya.

“Do you remember who destroyed Libya? It was a NATO decision. It was European aircraft that bombed Libya,” he said.

The North African country has plunged into a civil war since longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi was toppled and killed after an uprising and a NATO military intervention in 2011.

Putin said that “it is necessary to stop the bloodshed as soon as possible. It is necessary to start dialogue as soon as possible.”

“I do not think that Russia needs to be the main contributor to a resolution of the conflict. Let's ask those who created the problem," he added.

Putin also expressed concern about the flow of terrorists into Libya from Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib, a situation which he described as “very threatening.”

Gaddafi's ouster created a huge power vacuum in Libya and led to the emergence of numerous militant outfits, including the Daesh terrorist group.

“We need to work with our EU friends to maintain dialogue with all parties in Libya in order to help the Libyan people restore the functioning of their institutes,” said the Russian leader.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte also called on the international community to unite and help all the involved parties in Libya come to the negotiating table and reach a ceasefire.

The country is now in disarray and divided between two rival governments - one known as the House of Representatives and based in the eastern city of Tobruk, and the other in Tripoli, which is headed by Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj and enjoys UN recognition. 

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