Western — 30 May 2016

May 30, 2016 | International actors

International support has also been key to this week’s explosion of momentum on the western front against ISIS. The spokesperson of the Government of National Accord’s (GNA) Sirte Operations Room said they have started to receive financial and logistical support from the GNA and other countries. Italy has medevac’d a number of injured fighters to a military hospital in Italy and is said to be considering the provision a naval hospital in Misrata’s port to support the operation. The media has also reported on the role of British Special Forces in helping Libyan fighters take out ISIS suicide vehicles before they hit their target, among other ISR tactical support functions. Qatar has also flown in medical and logistical supplies to aid the operation. Finally, after the EU announced a 14-week plan on 24 May to train the Libyan coastguard, British Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed on 26 may that the UK will send a fifth naval ship to combat arms trafficking in Libyan waters as soon as ‘all relevant permissions are in place’ and a detailed plan is agreed with Libyan authorities.

After the Times reported on UK special force helping Misratan fighters against ISIS with targeted missiles, Crispin Blunt, the UK parliament’s foreign committee chair called for clarity on the role of British Special Forces in Libya. He said that what happened is not ‘surprising’ but warned from the undermining of British strategy in Libya if special forces act as conventional forces, which may backfire and intensify political crisis in Libya and play in the hands of hard-liners presenting the GNA as a puppet government.

UNSMIL Envoy Martin Kobler made his first visit to Misrata on 29 May, meeting with Misrata’s municipal council, local commanders and members of the GNA. He had flown in with his military adviser, Italian general Paolo Serra, for discussions about building up a joint military structure to combat ISIS. Kobler described his ‘shock’ during a visit to Misrata’s medical centre, witnessing the severe lack of capacity to provide health services to fighters wounded fighting ISIS