Libya interior minister meets with UAE counterpart

AP , Monday 1 Dec 2014

Sheik Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan
In this Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013 file photo, Emerati Interior Minister Sheik Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, center, participates in a Gulf Cooperation Council interior ministers gathering to discuss regional security issues in Manama, Bahrain (Photo: AP)

The interior minister of Libya's internationally recognized government met Monday with his counterpart in the United Arab Emirates to seek continued support in its battle against Islamist-allied militias who control the capital, Tripoli.

The fighting has killed hundreds of people and displaced thousands as each side claims to be the country's legitimate leadership.

Omar al-Sinki told The Associated Press ahead of his meeting Monday with UAE Interior Minister Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan that he wants greater technical, logistical and political support from Arab and international allies. He declined to discuss details of whether members of the armed forces have received military equipment and arms from the UAE.

U.S. officials over the summer said that Egypt and the UAE were carrying out airstrikes against Islamist militia positions in and around Tripoli, but Egypt has denied involvement and the UAE has not commented publicly.

"Libya, God willing, will eliminate terrorism like Egypt eliminated terrorism," al-Sinki said.

Al-Sinki said forces allied with his government control most of Libya's main eastern city, Benghazi. He said 321 people have been killed in fighting to retake the city from Islamist militias since Oct. 15. He said a more detailed breakdown of the death toll was not available.

Not far from Benghazi, militants in the eastern Islamist stronghold of Darna have pledged allegiance to the extremist Islamic State group, which is active in Syria and Iraq.

Al-Sinki said militants who subscribe to IS ideology are also in Tripoli, though he stressed they are separate from the now-disbanded Libya Islamic Fighting Group, some of whom help administer Tripoli.

He said there are plans to retake Darna after Benghazi is fully secured. He blamed IS-aligned militants for car bombs last month in the eastern cities of Tobruk and Bayda that killed six people and wounded 21.

Despite an escalation in violence, al-Sinki said Libya is not heading into a fully-fledged war.

"It is impossible for Libya to be on the verge of a civil war because the will of Libyans is to have a civil state, a state of institutions, a peaceful state, a safe state," he said.

Short link: