CAIRO (Reuters) - The Arab League pledged military support on Tuesday to help Libya’s internationally recognized government fight Islamic State, but did not publicly agree to a request for air strikes.
A communique issued after an Arab League meeting in Cairo said there was an urgent need for an “Arab strategy” to fight Islamic State in Libya, but did not mention specifics.
On Saturday, Libya’s official government, based in the east of the country after a rival group pushed it out of the capital last year, asked fellow Arab states to conduct air strikes against Islamic State in the central city of Sirte where the hardline Islamists crushed rival fighters.
Islamic State has exploited the security vacuum to expand in Libya as it did in Syria and Iraq. Sirte is its main base in the North African country.
The fighting typifies the chaos in Libya, where two governments and parliaments, along with an assortment of Islamists, tribesmen and armed groups, are battling for control of cities and regions four years after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi.
Libya’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Dayri had urged the Arab League meeting to agree to air strikes saying the official government had only two war planes.
The meeting’s communique said: “The situation has become more pressing in the difficult circumstances to speed up putting together an Arab strategy to fight Daesh (Islamic State) terrorism.”
Reporting by Omar Fahmy and Ahmed Elumami; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Robin Pomeroy