British troops await the go-ahead in Libya to fight ISIS
A Rome summit will determine whether UK troops target the Maghreb region where IS has its Libyan stronghold
A thousand British troops could be deployed to help wipe out Islamic State in Libya if crunch talks give the go-ahead this week.
Royal Marines supremo Lt Gen Gordon Messenger will negotiate British involvement in any action after a surge in terrorist activity in the North African country.
A Rome summit will determine whether UK troops target the Maghreb region where IS has its Libyan stronghold.
A joint Special Forces “search and destroy” mission could be launched in the wake of murderous attacks in Benghazi and Misrata. At least 15 members of the security forces were killed and 40 wounded by two IS suicide bombers on Friday.
A source said the UK already has a Special Forces Task Group in Libya. British troops could support a ground offensive in the country, which descended into lawlessness after Col Gaddafi was ousted in 2011.
The source suggested IED experts could be among those deployed, while Apache helicopters may be based offshore.
He added: “Messenger’s concept is robust and based around a clear timescale.”
Prime Minister David Cameron is aware of desires to deploy troops in Tripoli alongside Italian, French and US soldiers.
Some 6,000 terrorists linked to IS are operating in Libya and officials fear they could seek to deflect from battlefield losses with spectacular attacks in the West.
Some 5,000 jihadists are reported to have died in airstrikes in two years. A source added: “IS have suffered devastating hits across Iraq and Syria and have retreated. Now the international community know they have to wipe out the threat they pose.”
Speaking in Tripoli, Britain’s Ambassador to Libya, Peter Millett, pledged support for the country’s government.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “Lt Gen Messenger will be in Rome to explore, with international partners, how best to support the Libyan government.”
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