The Minister of Defence, Ms. Roberta Pinotti, on the involvement of Italy in the US operations against ISIS in Libya

CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES, XVII LEGISLATURE, 667th MEETING, 3 AUGUST 2016.

On 3 August 2016, the Minister of Defence, Ms. Roberta Pinotti, answering a parliamentary question on the alleged involvement of Italy in the US air operations against ISIS in Libya, stated:

The Government maintains that the successful outcome of the fight against ISIS headquarters in Libya is of the utmost importance for security – not only in that country, but also in Europe and Italy. I should add that from the outset Italy has taken part wholeheartedly in the fight against ISIS, and with equal conviction it regards as crucial the direct and active involvement in the fight against terrorism of local populations and governments, to whom, on specific request, the necessary support must be given.
Such a request for support clearly emerges from the words of President al-Sarraj […] who, while affirming Libya’s participation in the coalition against ISIS, states that all nations must not leave young Libyans alone fighting this enemy in their place. He also reiterated his appreciation and consideration for all nations who will support Libya in this endeavour.
For these reasons, the Government keeps a channel of direct and constant dialogue open with both our Libyan counterpart and our US allies in order to monitor the development of the operation and the possible demands for indirect support. In this context, the Government is ready to consider favourably the possible use of national military bases and airspace in support of the operation, should it be deemed useful for an effective and swift conclusion of the ongoing operation. [Such an operation…] has not until now involved Italy, neither logistically nor as far as the overflight of our national territory is concerned. The activities carried out by the US forces comply with UN Resolution no. 2259 of 2015 and follow a specific request for assistance by the legitimate Libyan Government with a view to fighting ISIS in the area of Sirte. As is well known, local Libyan forces – particularly those who recognised the Government of al-Sarraj – are engaged in a hard battle to oppose ISIS in the region of Sirte. Such a confrontation is however conducted with great difficulty, and a heavy toll is being paid by governmental forces as well as the civil population. This is largely due to the lack of capacities as regards the identification of military targets and their precision engagement. The US action will be limited in time and area of operations, does not entail the use of ground forces, and is only aimed at enabling Libyan forces to defeat terrorist forces in the area of Sirte.

The full Italian version of this statement can be downloaded here.

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