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UNSC calls for withdrawal of mercenaries from Libya

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)
The file photo shows a member of Libyan government forces standing near a destroyed military vehicle belonging to rebels, in Gharyan, south of Tripoli, Libya. (By Reuters)

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has demanded the exit of all foreign combatants and mercenaries from war-torn Libya.

In a unanimous statement released following a closed-door video conference on Tuesday, all members of the UNSC called for the "withdrawal of all foreign fighters and mercenaries from Libya in line with the ceasefire agreement reached by the Libyan parties on 23 October, the commitments of the participants of the Berlin Conference and the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions."

The 15-member body further underlined "the importance of a credible and effective Libyan-led ceasefire monitoring mechanism," which would operate under the auspices of the UN.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is due to submit proposals for the establishment of the mechanism at the end of December.

Libya has been in chaos since 2011, when a popular uprising and a NATO intervention led to the ouster of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

For the past six years, the country has been split between two rival camps, namely the UN-recognized government based in the capital, Tripoli, and another camp based in the eastern city of Tobruk, backed militarily by rebel forces led by strongman Khalifa Haftar.

The Libyan government receives major backing from Turkey, and the rebels from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Jordan.

The conflict in Libya has escalated into a regional proxy war fueled by foreign powers pouring weapons and mercenaries into the country.

The 75-member Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF), which is part of the UN efforts to end the chaos in Libya, is trying to get the country's warring sides to reach an agreement on a mechanism that would set up a transitional administration to lead the country through presidential and parliamentary elections in December 2021.

In October, the two sides signed a ceasefire deal, which also set a three-month deadline for foreign combatants and mercenaries to leave Libya. However, no progress has been made on the departure of those forces.

According to UN experts, the foreign forces, including Syrians, Sudanese, and Chadians, have purportedly been brought into Libya by rival sides.

In early December, the UN's acting Libya envoy, Stephanie Williams, said about 20,000 foreign and mercenary forces were still in the North African country.

Parties concerned in the Libyan conflict also agreed during a conference in the German capital in January to respect UN resolutions and pull out all foreign mercenaries from Libya.

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