‘Grave consequences’: Turkey warns Libya’s Haftar against attacks

Turkey has warned that attacks on its interests in Libya by renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar’s forces will have “grave consequences” after advances by the country’s Turkish-backed government.

Ankara has provided military support to the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Libya, which has been battling to fend off a year-long offensive by Haftar’s forces to take control of the capital Tripoli.

 

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

In what could be their most significant advance for nearly a year, the GNA took control of the al-Watiya airbase southwest of Tripoli on Monday.

Earlier on Thursday, GNA military spokesman Mohamed Gnunu said the Tripoli-based administration of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj continued to target several LNA positions in western Libya, including the city of Tarhouna, Haftar’s last stronghold near the capital.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency said the GNA carried out five air operations against forces loyal to Haftar in the past 24 hours.

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.

Turkish drones and air defences appear to have played a key role in GNA advances in recent weeks, with repeated claims of attacks on LNA supply chains from the east.

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

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