The EU has launched a new military operation in the Mediterranean to enforce a UN arms embargo on Libya.

Operation Irini will utilise aerial, satellite and maritime assets to implement the embargo.

The mission will involve monitoring the vessels operating off the coast of Libya suspected to be transporting arms and other materials.

It will also monitor and procure information on illegal petroleum exports from Libya, as well as train local coast guard and navy.

The operational objectives also include combating human trafficking in the region by gathering information and patrolling.

European Council President and Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy High Representative Josep Borrell said: “Only political solutions and the full respect of the UN arms embargo will bring a solution to the Libyan crisis, but diplomacy cannot succeed unless it is backed by action.

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“This operation will be essential and a clear contribution to promoting peace in our immediate neighbourhood through a permanent ceasefire.”

Operation Irini will be led by Rear Admiral Fabio Agostini as EU Operation Commander and is slated to continue until 31 March next year. It will be conducted from its headquarters in Rome, Italy.

EU members will closely monitor the operation and may also offer strategic direction through the Political and Security Committee (PSC).

The launch means the EU’s previous naval mission, Operation Sophia, has terminated all activities.

Sophia was launched in 2015 as part of the EU’s comprehensive approach to migration.