EU begins Libya arms embargo mission

Thursday 7 May 2020

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell speaks during a news conference after a meeting to discuss Libya's crisis, in Brussels, Belgium January 7, 2020. REUTERS

The European Union has launched a delayed naval mission to enforce an arms embargo on Libya, the bloc's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Thursday.

Operation IRINI, currently headquartered in Rome, aims to halt the flow of arms into Libya, where the Tripoli-based government is under attack from the Libyan National Army forces.

The sea mission began on Monday with the French naval vessel Jean Bart and a maritime patrol aircraft contributed by Luxembourg, the EU said in a statement.

"It shows EU commitment to peace in Libya, even at times when member states are battling the coronavirus pandemic," Borrell said in the statement.

World leaders agreed to uphold the UN embargo at a Berlin peace conference in January.

The mission's launch had been held up for nearly a month by bickering between Italy and Greece over who should hold the command.

The EU agreed to rotate the operation's command between the two countries every six months.

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