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Britain plans to send navy ship to Libya

British Prime Minister David Cameron walks as he arrives at a family photo with other world leaders during the last day of the Group of Seven (G7) summit meetings in Ise Shima. Picture: Reuters/ Carlos Barria

British Prime Minister David Cameron walks as he arrives at a family photo with other world leaders during the last day of the Group of Seven (G7) summit meetings in Ise Shima. Picture: Reuters/ Carlos Barria

Published May 27, 2016

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A royal Navy vessel could be sent into the waters off Libya to take on Islamic State arms-smugglers.

In a dramatic escalation of Britain’s role, No 10 said it would seek UN approval to deploy a warship to turn back boats carrying either arms and migrants.

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Libya has issued an appeal for Western powers to operate in its territory and, on Thursday night, David Cameron volunteering for the lead role at a summit of G7 world leaders in Japan.

The warship would join four Navy boats already in the region on a Nato mission operating outside Libyan territory.

Downing Street raised the alarming idea that IS fanatics are using the migrant route to get weapons out of Libya.

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Officials stressed however the weapons were not destined for the EU.

Brussels and the UN are expected to approve the intervention that could take place within weeks.

Military planners have already been deployed to Rome.

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Options include sending training ships for the Libyan coastguard to help tackle people smugglers, and sending ships with Royal Marines to intercept vessels suspected of carrying weapons.

A Navy source said: “If it is going to be in contested areas then we will need to think about who needs to be on board.”

Raffaello Pantucci, counter-terrorism expert at the Royal United Services Institute, warned of the dangers of sending vessels too close to shore.

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“The ships will come up against small vessels, at worst manned by criminals or terrorists. It is possible you could see them in firefights,” he said.

A Government spokesman said the Prime Minister had told the G7 summit the migrant crisis was a global challenge requiring a comprehensive solution.

He said Britain would help the Libyan government “build the capacity of their coastguard to intercept boats”.

Daily Mail

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