AP – France's president says French troops south of Libya are ready to strike extremists crossing the border, but the speaker of Libya's internationally recognized parliament spoke out Monday against any Western military intervention in his country.
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International concern has been mounting over Libya, which is mired in the worst fighting since dictator Moammar Gadhafi was overthrown in 2011, leaving the country with two rival governments.
French President Francois Hollande urged the United Nations to take action to stem growing violence in the North African country, and the transit of arms from Libya to militant groups around the Sahel region.
"We are making sure to contain the terrorism that took refuge there, in southern Libya. But France will not intervene in Libya because it's up to the international community to take its responsibility," Hollande said Monday on France-Inter radio.
While Hollande ruled out unilateral intervention inside Libya, he said French forces will strike Islamic extremists "every time they leave these places where they are hiding."
To do that, France is setting up a military base in northern Niger, 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the lawless Libyan border region. About 200 troops are deployed in the desert outpost at Madama. French and U.S. drones are already operating out of Niger's capital, Niamey.
African leaders urged Western countries to intervene in Libya at a security summit in Dakar last month.
However, Libyan parliament speaker Aqila Issa told reporters in Cairo on Monday, "Foreign military intervention in Libya is rejected. If we need any military intervention, we will ask our Arab brothers."
Mohammed Bazzaza, spokesman for the internationally recognized government, told the Dubai-based al-Hadath TV station that his government welcomes international cooperation to fight terrorism, but did not specifically mention outright military intervention.
French air strikes helped drive Gadhafi from power. Later, French troops largely expelled Al-Qaida-linked insurgents from northern Mali in 2013 and some fled to Libya.
France has now launched a military operation against Islamic extremists in five of its former colonies in the Sahel region, with 3,000 troops, 200 armored vehicles and six fighter jets in Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad and Mali.