Turkey warns Haftar's forces against attacks on interests in Libya

Cheryl Sanders
May 23, 2020

Tarhouna, 90 km from the capital, was taken by the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA) under general Khalifa Haftar at the beginning of the military campaign against Tripoli that began in April 2019.(ANSAmed).

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Thursday that Sergei Lavrov had a call with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavudoglu, and that they underlined the need for an immediate ceasefire in Libya and the resumption of a political process based on decisions made at a conference in Berlin earlier this year.

Turkey warned on Thursday (May 21) that attacks on its interests in Libya by military commander Khalifa Haftar's forces will have "very grave consequences", after advances by the country's Turkish-backed government. Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin was quoted as saying by broadcaster NTV that attacks on Turkish positions would prompt heavy retaliation.

Haftar's forces - backed by Egypt, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates - vowed to retaliate with an air campaign.

In recent weeks, the GNA has made significant progress, with the help of Turkey, by capturing the strategic Watiya air base and forcing Haftar's LNA to announce a partial withdrawal from the Tripoli frontlines.

Ahmed al-Mosmari, a spokesman for Hifter's forces, renewed his allegation that there were 1,500 Turkish military personnel on Libyan soil, fighting on behalf of the Tripoli-based government.

Photos and videos for social media activists showed GNA forces inside the town that has been for over a year under the control of the illegitimate forces of warlord Haftar. On Wednesday, the LNA announced it was withdrawing two to three kilometres to ease conditions for Tripoli residents at the end of the Muslim holiday Ramadan.

But it still controls eastern and southern Libya, including most of the country's oil facilities, and the city of Sirte, at the centre of Libya's Mediterranean coastline.

Haftar has support from a number of foreign powers, but most notably one of Iran's arch-rivals, the UAE.

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