French PM Francois Hollande near jet (file)
French PM Francois Hollande near jet (file)Reuters

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Friday warned that the international community must be ready to take military action in Libya to help the unity government, even as Islamic State (ISIS) gains ground in the North African state.

Ayrault spoke after Libya's UN-backed unity government prime minister-designate Fayez al-Sarraj arrived in the capital city of Tripoli, and hours later on Wednesday the unrecognized militant groups controlling the city demanded that he leave.

"Libya is a concern shared by all the countries of the region and beyond," Ayrault told a French paper, as cited by The New Arab.

"The chaos which reigns there today aids the rapid development of terrorism. It is a direct threat to the region and to Europe."

The foreign minister noted that while ISIS terrorists are losing ground in Syria and Iraq thanks to international intervention, the group is gaining in Libya.

"We must be prepared to respond if the national unity government of al-Sarraj asks for help, including on the military front," he said.

Asked about the likelihood of military intervention, he said, "that will depend on the legal government. To think of launching airstrikes outside of the political process is not an option."

Al-Sarraj's arrival in Tripoli led the local militias to demand he leave, but ten Libyan cities that had been controlled by the non-recognized government in Tripoli announced that they have changed sides and now support the UN-backed government.

Libya has been in chaos since the NATO-backed ouster of longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011 as part of the "Arab Spring."