In a tweet posted Wednesday, Arab news network Al Arabiya reported that General Khalifa Haftar, whose forces control the eastern part of the North African country, ordered the Libyan National Army to bomb any non-commercial vessels in Libyan waters.
Italy's newly approved naval mission to Libya will not be "aggressive" but will give support to its crisis-hit former colony, Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni stated on Wednesday after lawmakers voted in favour of the mission.
More than 95,000 migrants have landed in Italy this year, and many of them departed from Libya and made the perilous journey across the Mediterranean.
More than 95,000 migrants arrived in Italy by sea from Africa in the first seven months of 2017, nearly the same figure as previous year.
The warning by Libya's eastern commander comes after the Italian parliament authorized a naval mission to help Libya's coast guard curb refugee flows and reduce the number of people arriving on Italy's coasts.
But the approach has been criticised by worldwide rights groups who say people returned to troubled Libya face detention in squalid camps and abuse at the hands of traffickers.
A boat operated by German NGO Jugend Rettet, one of the five groups that did not sign up, was seized by the Italian coastguard on Wednesday on the order of Sicilian magistrates on suspicion it had aided illegal immigration.
Prosecutors are said to have gathered evidence from an undercover police officer working on another boat, along with evidence from workers on Save the Children's Vos Hestia vessel.
Jugend Rettet is one of the six out of nine NGOs which refused to sign a new code of conduct by the Italian government covering migrant rescues in the Mediterranean.
While investigators suspect "the crime of clandestine immigration" was committed by some of the Jugend Rettet boat's crew, prosecutor Ambrogio Cartosio told reporters that "my personal conviction was that the motive is humanitarian, exclusively humanitarian".
More than 2،370 have died trying to reach Italy. Its web site says its volunteers' "motivation derives from the will to rescue lives and to improve the humanitarian situation on the Mediterranean".
"The evidence is serious".
"People on the Iuventa are believed to have taken on board, on at least two separate occasions, migrants escorted by Libyan traffickers whose lives were not in danger", Cartosio said.
Italian officials complain that these boats, funded by private contributions mostly from Europe, act as a "ferry service" to Italy for migrants, who are dispatched by smugglers in rubber and wooden boats and then picked up outside Libya's 12-mile limit by the NGOs for transport to Sicily.
Italy is due to hold national elections by next May, with voting widely expected in early 2018, and the migrant issue is expected to top the political agenda. Italy, which was once a point of transit for migrants moving up to northern Europe, has become a place of settlement.More news: Dukes of Hazzard's Tom Wopat Arrested After Groping Woman
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