Libya's paramilitary force to 'cleanse' country's south

Military operation will target Islamic militants and seek to stem illegal operation, spokesman says

Members of the Self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA) special forces attend a graduation ceremony in Benghazi on December 31, 2018. Libya is divided between several rival entities, chief among them an internationally-recognised Government of National Accord led by Fayez al-Sarraj in Tripoli and a parallel administration in the east loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar. / AFP / Abdullah DOMA
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A spokesman for Libya's powerful paramilitary based in the eastern city of Benghazi says its troops are launching an operation "to cleanse" the country's south of Islamic militants and criminals.

Ahmed Al Mesmari of the self-styled Libyan National Army that answers to Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar told reporters on Tuesday that the operations aims to "eliminate gangs, Islamic State terrorists and criminals" in the south.

He says the operation will also try and stem illegal migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, describing it as an "international problem."

The UN recently deplored deteriorating security in southern Libya.

Libya slid into chaos after the 2011 uprising that overthrew and killed long-ruling dictator Muammar Qaddafi . The country is currently governed by rival authorities in Tripoli and the east, each backed by an array of militias.

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