16:55 GMT +306 December 2019
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    Migrants wait to disembark from an Italian navy vessel in the Sicilian harbour of Augusta, Italy, August 23, 2015

    More Deaths on Libyan Waters While ISIL Makes Ground On Shore

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    Major Migrant Crisis in Europe (1819)
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    Tragic scenes are emerging on Libyan waters where 50 people have been found dead in the hold of a boat, believed to have died from inhalation of engine fumes and asphyxia.

    The rescue operation, carried out by a Swedish ship, discovered the bodies after being sent to rescue 430 people above board. 

    In what seems to be yet another challenging day for sea rescuers as numbers keep rising, crew of the Migrant Offshore Aid Station and Medecins Sans Frontieres spotted another boat on the horizon with 700 people on board. Earlier that day, around 17 people also drowned after their boat capsized north of the Libyan coastal town of Zuwara, Libya's largest smuggling hub.  

    The majority of boats crammed with refugees, migrants and asylum seekers set sail from coastal cities east of Tripoli — a city captured by Islamic State militants last year. 

    There are now concerns that ISIL are making more ground in the coastal town of Sirte situated between Tripoli and Tobruk. Sirte was once home to Libya's former dictator Muammar Gaddafi before he was killed by a NATO-led rebellion in 2011. It's now the target site for Islamic State terrorists — who are also in control of large areas of Iraq and Syria.

    Many of the arms used by rebel groups to overthrow Gaddafi are now said to be in the hands of IS militias. This has led to renewed calls from Libya's foreign minister for the UN arms embargo on the country to be lifted and international airstrikes to help beat back ISIL. During a visit to France, Mohammad al-Dayri, Libya's foreign minister told AFP, "The situation is extremely serious".

    "People are dying, are crucified, are disinterred from their graves, are burned alive. Libyan's don't understand why the international community doesn't wake up to these dangers." 

    "We also hope for an [international] intervention as soon as possible because the danger is growing. But not troops on the ground. We are hoping for aerial support for the Libyan armed forces on the ground", Mohammad al-Dayri said. 

    Western governments, who led the 2011 invasion of Libya to topple Gaddafi, have only issued a statement condemning the violence carried out by ISIL, calling for the formation of a Unity government, while reiterating "that there is no military solution to the political conflict in Libya and remain concerned that the economic and humanitarian situation is worsening every day".

    Dr Ramzy Baroud, author, journalist and Middle East expert recently told Sputnik that Libya only matters as a security concern to NATO, "namely the flood of poor desperate refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean to Italy".

    "It is particularly interesting that NATO went to war in early 2011 supposedly to save innocent Libyan lives in Benghazi, but cares so very little about the lives that were shattered and those who continue under the reign of the militants and their regional and international backers." Baroud said.

    But only 50 kilometers away, EU military led naval ships are rescuing people forced to leave the country in a situation described by Western governments as "worsening every day," while insisting there is "no military solution".

    Meanwhile, leaked documents revealing the EU's classified plan for military intervention on the Mediterranean Sea reveal that an EU military force could be used against groups such as ISIL "within the Libyan sovereign area. 

    "The threat to the force should be acknowledged, especially during activities such as boarding and when operating on land or in proximity to an unsecured coastline or during interaction with non-seaworthy vessels. The potential presence of hostile forces, extremists, or terrorists such as Daesh [ISIL] should also be taken into consideration."

    In addition to the latest drownings, leaving 50 people dead, the Italian coast guard said ten more boats had got into difficulty 50 kilometers from the Libyan coast. Five rescue operations were carried out while the others remain underway.

    Major Migrant Crisis in Europe (1819)


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