Salah Badi, the leader of the Shield Brigade militia in Libya has issued an ultimatum to the Italian forces stationed at the military base in Misrata.
He demanded that the troops leave the country peacefully, within 48 hours, or face a forcible eviction.
For several years, an Italian military mission has been present within the Misrata airbase, consisting of over 300 soldiers.
They initially entered Libya under the guise of providing medical aid to government forces fighting in Sirte in 2016.
Badi appeared in a video during a demonstration with his supporters outside the Misrata airbase on Wednesday. In the video, he stated that it was imperative for the Italian soldiers, whom he referred to as “spies,” to depart from the country.
He regarded their continued presence as “foreign occupation, a violation of the state’s sovereignty, and a disgrace to the Libyan people.”
He issued a warning to anyone attempting to protect them, referring to the forces loyal to the Government of National Unity (GNU).
Badi has been on the United Nations Security Council sanctions list since November 2018.
The withdrawal of foreign military forces from Libya, a move widely supported by the population, continues to face numerous obstacles and challenges.
These challenges are fueled by the ongoing political division within the country between rival factions.
Libya has been in chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The county has for years been split between rival administrations, each backed by rogue militias and foreign governments.