EU authorizes new maritime operations in Mediterranean

An EU naval mission in the Mediterranean has been authorized to start enforcing a UN arms embargo designed to choke off weapon supplies to extremists in Libya.

The EU said ambassadors from the bloc's 28 member countries also voted Tuesday for the EU's maritime force, known as Operation Sophia, to begin training the Libyan coast guard and navy.

Operation Sophia was launched to disrupt human smuggling operations in the Central Mediterranean. EU leaders decided to add new duties to its mission in June.

The EU's maritime unit is now authorized to stop and search vessels in international waters off Libya that are suspected of carrying arms to the Islamic State and other extremist groups active in the North African nation. The EU flotilla may also seize contraband weapons cargoes.