Turkey warns against attacks on its presence in Libya

Turkey warns against attacks on its presence in Libya

Libya's internationally recognized government retook parts of southern Tripoli on Friday from the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) of Khalifa Haftar.

Haftar, backed by the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Egypt, has promised to respond with a massive air campaign and on Thursday its spokesman Ahmed Mismari said four warplanes had become newly available.

"In the event Turkish interests in Libya are targeted, this will have very grave consequences", Aksoy said on Thursday, adding that the LNA's statements were "delusional".

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.

Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin was also quoted as saying by broadcaster NTV that attacks on Turkish positions would prompt heavy retaliation.

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.

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A day earlier, the LNA announced it was withdrawing 2-3km (1-2 miles) to ease conditions for the Tripoli residents at the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting.

Since 2014, Libya has been divided between the two rival factions.

Turkey's Defence Minister Hulusi Akar on Wednesday said "the balance in Libya changed significantly" as a result of Turkish training and advice.

Haftar - who is backed by U.S. allies Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia - launched an offensive in April 2019 to seize Tripoli that has killed hundreds.

The LNA still holds all of eastern Libya and much of the south, including most oil facilities.

"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.

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