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Italy ‘ready to lead’ coalition against Libya jihadists

Mahmud Turkia, AFP | A fighter from the Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn) militia holds a position during clashes with forces loyal to Libya's internationally recognised government on February 4, 2015

Italy on Sunday said it was willing to lead an international coalition against jihadists in Libya, as it began repatriating its citizens from the troubled north African country amid security concerns.

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Italy on Sunday closed its embassy in Libya, one of the last European missions in the troubled country. About 100 Italians were evacuated on a vessel escorted by the navy, the foreign ministry said.

Rome on Friday warned its nationals against travelling to Libya and urged those already there to leave in the face of mounting insecurity as jihadists gain ground.

Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti said in an interview published Sunday that Italy was ready to lead a coalition from Europe and north African states to battle against the advance of jihadists in the violence-plagued country.

"We have been discussing this for months but now it has become urgent," Pinotti told Il Messaggero newspaper.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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