Libyan rival army seizes major oil ports, Italy mulls sending troops
This file photo taken on January 08, 2016 shows smoke billowing from a petroleum storage tank after a fire was extinguished at Al-Sidra oil terminal, near Ras Lanuf, in the so-called "oil crescent" along Libya's northern coast. (AFP/Stringer
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Italy hinted on Monday that it might send military forces to Libya, hours after the Libyan National Army (LNA) announced seizing the oil crescent region with no losses. The UN-backed unity government in Libya considered this step an escalation in the Libyan crisis.
LNA Spokesman Colonel Ahmad Mesmari stated that Haftar’s forces took control over Al-Sidra and Ras Lanuf ports and that “the Libyan people should be assured that they are safe and that the LNA forces liberated the oil crescent region.”
Military spokesman Mohammad al-Azumi told AFP that Haftar’s forces were able to take control of Zuwaytina port and secure it completely. The LNA forces also attacked the oil crescent region and took control over Al-Sidra and Ras Lanuf ports, the biggest oil exporting ports.
On the contrary, Siraj government rejected seizure of the oil crescent region and called on supporting forces to “report to national and military duty” in order to regain control over the region, knowing that it represents one of the major financial resources to the Serraj government.
An Italian governmental officer reported to Reuters that a military hospital will be established near Misrata Airport. The source added that 100 doctors and nurses will serve the hospital and 200 soldiers will protect it. “The hospital should be in a safe place yet not far from the battles’ region,” he said.
The source continued that Italy had already sent dozens of Libyan fighters to Rome to receive treatment but establishing a hospital will be quicker and more efficient.
Although for a humanitarian reason, yet in this step Italy would be the first western country to explicitly deploy forces in Libya. More details will be available after Foreign Minister of Italy Paolo Gentiloni and Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti deliver their statements on the Libyan crisis infront of the parliament.
Italy and Libya share a historic relation as Libya was mandated by Rome during the first half of the 20th century.