UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has told the Security Council of his alarm at the military build-up around Sirte in Libya. The conflict in the North African country has entered "a new phase with the foreign intervention reaching unprecedented levels, including the delivery of advanced equipment and mercenaries involved in the fighting," Guterres pointed out.
Having monitored developments on the ground in Libya, including the retreat of the "Libyan National Army" from Tripoli, and the Government of National Accord's control of Al-Watiya Air Base, the UN head explained that GNA forces are now 25 kilometres to the west of Sirte. "There have been two previous attempts to control the city. The situation on the front lines remains calm, more or less.
"[We have] deep concern about the terrifying military build-up around [Sirte], and the high rate of direct foreign intervention in the conflict, in violation of the arms embargo imposed by the United Nations and Security Council resolutions and the obligations undertaken by Berlin member states," said Guterres. "The UN Support Mission in Libya is working to make efforts to reduce the escalation, including the establishment of a demilitarised zone if possible, with a view to reach a solution through dialogue and saving lives."
He pointed out that the current discussions to settle the Libyan crisis focus on points of convergence, including "the departure of foreign mercenaries and strong cooperation in combating terrorism between military and security institutions all over the country, and the disarmament and demobilisation of armed groups throughout Libya, and the search for ways to establish a possible ceasefire mechanism that reflects the new reality on the ground."
The UN Secretary-General also informed the Security Council of a problem facing the international mission in Libya. An international audit of the accounts of the two branches of the Central Bank of Libya, he noted, is being hindered by "obstacles" created by many key local officials.