The Operation Commander has been instructed to suspend temporarily the deployment of the Operation's naval assets for the duration of this extension for operational reasons,

...EUNAVFOR announced.

Operation Sophia is a military operation of the European Union with two vessels and five planes and helicopters, launched on 22 June 2015, with the aim of neutralising established refugee smuggling routes in the Southern Central Mediterranean, as part of the EU's comprehensive approach to migration.

The news of suspension reportedly comes after Italy’s government threatened to veto the entire operation.

Italy has been refusing to take in people, with the country’s deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, refusing access to to rescue boats.

EU member states will continue to work in the appropriate fora on a solution on disembarkation as part of the follow-up to the June 2018 European Council conclusions, EUNAVFOR added.

The Operation will continue to implement its mandate accordingly, strengthening surveillance by air assets as well as reinforcing support to the Libyan Coastguard and Navy in law enforcement tasks at sea through enhanced monitoring, including ashore, and continuation of training.

The operation has also supporting tasks. It trains the Libyan Coastguard and Navy and monitors the long-term efficiency of the training and it contributes to the implementation of the UN arms embargo on the high seas off the coast of Libya.

In addition, the operation also conducts surveillance activities and gathers information on illegal trafficking of oil exports from Libya, in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions.

As such, the operation contributes to EU efforts for the return of stability and security in Libya and to maritime security in the Central Mediterranean region.