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Britain is set to deploy 1,000 troops to help the fight against ISIS in Libya

The Daily Mail Tuesday, March 15th 2016 11:21 PM

Britain is planning to send 1,000 ground troops into Isis-ridden Libya, an influential House of Commons committee said tonight.

The new Libyan unity government told MPs on the Foreign Affairs Committee during a visit to the war-torn country at the weekend that one of its first acts will be to accept the UK Government's offer to send in troops to help a 6,000-strong international force to shore up the new administration. 

Isis has established a foothold on the Mediterranean coast, setting up its north African headquarters in the Libyan coastal town of Sirte, which sits just 200 miles from Europe. 

British government officials travelled to Libya earlier this year to discuss the possibility of accepting UK troops to help train Libyan soldiers in its fight against Islamic militants.   

Crispin Blunt, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said they had been told that Defence Secretary Michael Fallon will confirm the deployment at a European conference this week. 

He has written to Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond demanding he makes a statement to MPs this week to explain the decision and to set out how the deployment 'is consistent with our policy objectives'. 

The troops are expected to join an Italian-led force of around 6,000 ground forces to train Libyan soldiers in their fight against Islamic terrorists. 

The Government of National Accord (GNA), backed by the UN, moved to take power of the crisis-hit country at the weekend. 

Mr Blunt wrote: 'We heard that the GNA's likely first formal action will be to request that the UK and its allies conduct airstrikes against Isil targets in Libya.

'In the course of our meetings and discussions in North Africa, we also heard that the UK plans to contribute 1,000 ground troops to a 6,000-strong international force which will be deployed to Libya in the near future.'

He added: 'The pre-emptive deployment of UK military forces is now a matter for the House of Commons. I therefore request that you make a statement to the House on the state of the plan for any deployment of UK military forces in Libya before the Defence Secretary agrees the UK component of any international force and explain how this deployment is consistent with our policy objectives.'  

Isis has seized control of strategically important points along the Libyan coast over the last year. 

It took control of Sirte, the Libyan coastal city where Muammar Gaddaffi was born, last year and is now the location of its north African headquarters.

Sharia courts now rule the city and the terror network carry out public beheadings and floggings in the city. 

The group's expansion along the Mediterranean coast has raised fears that ISIS terrorists could pose as refugees boarding boats into Europe. 

The overthrow of Gaddaffi in 2011 triggered rival militias fighting to take control of the country and created a vacuum for terrorist groups such as ISIS to operate. 

Last week US President Barack Obama launched a remarkable attack on David Cameron for leaving Libya a 's*** show' after intervening to oust Colonel Gadaffi in 2011.

He used a damning interview with The Atlantic magazine yesterday to claim Mr Cameron had been 'distracted by other things' when he should have been stablising Libya in 2011. 

Mr Obama said he wanted Britain and France to take the lead in Libya to break their habit of 'pushing us to act but then showing an unwillingness to put any skin in the game'.

In the interview yesterday Mr Obama said he wanted Mr Cameron and the then French President Nicolas Sarkozy to take charge of the campaign to oust Libyan dictator Colonel Gadaffi in the spring of 2011 instead of relying on the US acting 'unilaterally'. 

Mr Obama believed the UK and France were too happy to rely on the US to deal with conflicts on Europe's doorstep but was keen for them to take the lead in the fight against Gadaffi.  

He even went as far as describing the likes of Britain and France as 'free riders,' adding later that he had told Mr Cameron that 'free riders aggravate me' when he had told the PM: 'You have to pay your fair share'.

There are widespread fears that ISIS, which has seized a long stretch of coastline around the city of Sirte, wants to move its headquarters from Syria to north Africa and threaten the Mediterranean.

Over past weeks, ISIS have stepped up attacks against the country's oil infrastructure and made the most deadly single raid since the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi. 

Reports that British troops would be deployed to Libya as part of an international peacekeeping mission surfaced in August last year. 

At the time, it was reported that American, French, Spanish and German officials would join Britain in an international mission to stabilise the country once the rival warring faction agree on forming a unity government. 

But a UN-backed plan to end the 20-month civil war that has torn Libya apart is struggling to take off. 

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