DOHA: The US and its European allies have warned against “outside interference” in Libya, a day after officials in Washington said the UAE had launched air raids in Tripoli with the support of Egypt.
US officials told the New York Times on Monday that Egypt and the UAE were behind attacks on Saturday, a claim both states deny, Al Jazeera reported yesterday.
On Tuesday, the US, France, Germany, Italy and the UK said in a joint statement: “We believe outside interference in Libya exacerbates current divisions and undermines Libya’s democratic transition. France, Germany, Italy, the UK and the US strongly condemn the escalation of fighting and violence in and around Tripoli, Benghazi, and across Libya ... by both land attacks and air strikes.” Bernardino Leon, the new UN envoy to Libya, also said that he opposed foreign intervention as a strategy to halt the crisis in the country.
He, however, added that Libya needs international support to back “Libyans who want to fight chaos ... through a political process”. The air raids in Tripoli may have been a bid to prevent the capture of the Tripoli airport, but fighters seized control.
An Emirati official told AFP yesterday that his country had no “reaction” to such reports. Egypt has denied conducting air strikes or other military operations in Libya.
“Egypt categorically denies press reports that Egyptian warplanes bombarded positions held by armed Islamist militias in the Libyan capital,” the Egyptian foreign ministry had said on Sunday.
The US government said that the UAE and Egypt were behind last week’s two deadly night raids on Islamist positions near Tripoli airport. “We do believe there were air strikes undertaken in recent days by the UAE and Egypt inside Libya,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters.
The State Department also confirmed the air attacks but officials would not say whether Washington was notified in advance.
Islamist forces in Libya alleged at the weekend that Egypt and the UAE were behind the air raids. Earlier, two US officials told AFP that the United States did not take part or provide any assistance in the bombing raids, although they could not confirm that Egypt and the UAE had left Washington totally in the dark about the attacks.