Turkey on Thursday has warned forces loyal to Libya’s renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar against attacks on its interests, saying such moves would have “grave consequences”.
Turkey’s warning came hours after the Libyan National Army (LNA), led by Haftar, announced that it was preparing to launch a large air campaign against Turkish targets “in the coming hours”.
“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,” Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said a statement.
Libya has been divided since 2014 between the LNA and Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) backed by Turkey. The LNA last year launched a military campaign with support from Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates to topple the Tripoli-based GNA.
Turkey has propped up the GNA with military support since last year, when an LNA onslaught extended its control to areas surrounding Tripoli. The GNA forces have been making significant advances since Ankara ramped up its support after signing a military memorandum with the Tripoli government in November.
“Hereby, we once again remind that, if Haftar’s putschist elements target Turkish interests in Libya, this will have serious consequences and that we will consider them as legitimate targets,” Aksoy said.