Libya’s Haftar orders forces to attack Turkish ships, bans flights to Turkey
Head of the Libyan National Army Khalifa Haftar has ordered his forces to attack Turkish ships and interests in the country, his spokesman said on Friday, accusing Turkey of being actively involved in battles.
“Orders have been given to the air force to target Turkish ships and boats in Libyan territorial waters,” said General Ahmad al-Mesmari, adding that “Turkey provided air cover using drones during the militia invasion of Gharyan city.”
The spokesman accused Turkey of helping Haftar’s rivals- the Government of National Accord (GNA)- seize the town of Gharyan, around 100 kilometers (around 60 miles) southwest of Tripoli.
Turkish strategic sites, companies and projects belonging to the Turkish state (in Libya) are considered legitimate targets by the armed forces.”
Haftar’s Libyan National Army, which holds eastern Libya and much of the country’s south, launched an offensive to take the capital in early April.
Libya has been mired in chaos since a NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, with a multitude of militias vying for control of the oil-rich country.
Haftar, a retired general who had taken part in the revolt against Qaddafi, unleashed an offensive in May 2014 to purge Libya of Islamists he branded “terrorists.”
Mesmari added “all Turkish nationals on Libyan territory will be arrested” and “all flights to and from Turkey will be banned.”
He did not explain how the flight ban could apply to areas not under Haftar’s control.