Ibrahim Dabbashi, Libyan ambassador to the UN, told La Stampa newspaper: “Italy, France, Britain and the United States are preparing air strikes to hit the bases of ISIS in Sirte. I believe that as soon as the political conditions allow, they will take action.”

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On Sunday night 20 Dec, there were new reports of ‘unidentified’ low-flying, surveillance aircraft over ISIS territory east of Sirte, near Noufaliyah, Um Qandil and Bin Jawwad, a town just 40km from Sidra and Ras Lanuf, the largest oil terminals in Libya. Sources speculate that the aircraft are likely French jets flying from the French Carrier Charles De Gaulle…. In fact, prominent Islamists and political hardliners in Tripoli are saying that the purpose of the GNA is to rubber stamp international intervention against all Islamist forces, a potently dangerous rhetoric as it risks emboldening extremist groups and IS even further. In a recent statement by Dar Al Ifta, the religious establishment headed by the Grand Mufti in Tripoli, Sadeq Al Gheryani, the GNA is deemed against Sharia due to its illegitimate and unconstitutional origins.

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After months of measured statements by foreign ministers and top officials dismissing the notion of direct military intervention in Libya, recent reports indicate that the UK and possibly France could extend ‘Syria-style’ anti-ISIS strikes to Libya, subject to the establishment of a GNA which invites them to do so.

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This week, both the Italian and French PMs explicitly dismissed the notion of boots-on-the-ground military intervention against ISIS in Libya. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also ruled out such an intervention…. France confirmed that it carried out ISR flights over Sirte on 20 and 21 November, aimed at collecting intelligence on ISIS movements.

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