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The Government has ruled out sending ground combat troops to Libya to fight against Daesh or any other armed groups, the Foreign Secretary said in April 2016.

However the Government is considering participating in a possible Italian-led international assistance mission (LIAM) to train the Libyan armed forces, if requested by the Libyan Government of National Accord. At the time of writing no formal request has been made. The Secretary-General of NATO has said it is unlikely NATO would be involved in such a mission.

Would Parliament vote?

A Convention has developed whereby the House of Commons would have the opportunity to debate the deployment of military forces, prior to doing so, except in the event of an emergency. However Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, said a training mission would not trigger the Convention and therefore would not necessitate a debate and vote in Parliament.

The Government refuses to discuss deployments of Special Forces and will not comment on press reports that Special Forces are already operating in Libya.

Operation Ellamy in 2011

The UK military campaign in Libya in 2011 did not involve land forces, instead relying heavily on RAF and Royal Navy assets. Parliament approved the military operation three days after it had begun.

Where would the training take place?

Details of any possible mission remain sketchy and the Government has said it has received no formal request from the Libyan Government of National Accord.

However the Government may be hesitant to offer to host any training programme in the UK after the events of 2014. An Army-run training programme for Libyan soldiers at Bassingbourn barracks, near Cambridge, was halted early after allegations of serious sexual assaults (five Libyan men were subsequently imprisoned for rape and sexual assaults).

Penny Mordaunt, the Armed Forces Minister, has previously expressed a preference for any future training mission to take place ‘in-country’ and the Foreign Secretary has similarly said it is better, for climate reasons, to train people in an environment as close as possible to the one in which they are operating. This suggests such a mission, if it occured, would take place in Libya or a neighbouring/nearby country.

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