Saturday, 30 May, 2020

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

Turkey warns against attacks on its presence in Libya 'Grave consequences': Turkey warns Libya's Haftar against attacks
Deanna Wagner | 23 May, 2020, 06:38

Libya's internationally recognised government retook parts of southern Tripoli on Friday from the militias loyal to warlord Khalifa Haftar, whose 13-month campaign to seize the capital is under ever-greater pressure.

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.

On Monday, the GNA captured the strategic al-Watiya airbase from the LNA.

Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy on Thursday said Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) had received warplanes with "foreign support" and that they had vowed to target Turkish positions in Libya with an air campaign. The offensive has had the backing of Russia, France, Egypt and the Unite Arab Emirates.

Military spokesman Mohamed Gnunu said that air strikes by the GNA targeted several locations in the west of the country, including in the Haftar stronghold of Tarhouna near Tripoli.

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The GNA also announced that it had regained control of two cities near the Tunisian border from Haftar's forces.

On Wednesday, Hifter's forces announced they would withdraw up to 3 kilometers from the front line around Tripoli in a humanitarian gesture aimed at giving the residents a respite from the fighting to celebrate the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr this weekend.

Turkey - the GNA's main ally - threatened to step up its attacks against the LNA.

Last year, Middle East Eye reported that as Haftar's offensive against Tripoli began, the LNA had about 15 operational aircraft: eight MiG-21s (one was shot down over Tripoli by a Chinese-made air defence system), three MiG-23s, two Su-22s and two Mirage F1s.

"This statement, which reflects the delusion of elements affiliated to Haftar due to their recent losses on the ground, is a clear indication of the intent of putschists Haftar and his supporters to escalate the conflict in Libya", Aksoy said in the statement.