Turkey to retaliate against any attack by Libya’s Haftar: Defense minister
Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has warned that the forces of Khalifa Haftar and their supporters based in eastern Libya would be viewed as “legitimate targets” if they attempted to attack Turkish forces in the region.
Speaking during a visit to Turkish troops in Tripoli on Dec. 26, Akar said Haftar had recently started making calls targeting Turkish forces in Libya.
“This war criminal, thug Haftar and his backers should know that in the event of an attack attempt waged on Turkish forces, the killer Haftar’s forces will be viewed as legitimate targets everywhere,” the minister said.
“They should get this in their heads. If they do something like this, they will have nowhere to run,” he added.
His comments came days after Haftar said his forces would “prepare to drive out the occupier by faith, will and weapons,” referring to Turkish troops operating in support of Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA).
Subsequently, Akar visited the Libya Task Group Command and addressed the troops.
“Everyone should contribute to reaching a political solution here. Any move other than this is wrong,” he said.
Stating that the Turkish Armed Forces carried out military training, cooperation and consultancy activities within the scope of the agreement made in Libya, Akar said that approximately 3,000 Libyans had received training.
“The main problem in Libya is the coup leader Haftar and his supporters, and that’s where the problem stems,” he said, emphasizing that the legitimate government in Libya is the Government of National Accord that was formed under a U.N. initiative.
Pointing out that some countries emerged to be an actor of the solution after the political process has started, Akar said: “Those who were absent in that time are now trying to get a role and gain a place for themselves. This should not be overlooked.”
The massacres carried out by the putschist Haftar were revealed once again, with 21 mass graves found in Tarhuna, the minister said, criticizing the world for staying silent.
Turkey backs the base in Tripoli, which for years has been fighting Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA). The LNA is backed by Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.
Turkey has sent military personnel and equipment to the GNA, helping to turn the tide of the war in Libya, while engaging in talks with Moscow for a solution to the conflict between the GNA and LNA.
In October, the GNA and LNA signed a ceasefire agreement, and the United Nations has been pushing a political dialogue aimed at elections next year as a solution. Last week, Russia called for international efforts toward a peace settlement in Libya to be intensified.
Libya has been torn by a civil war since the ouster by late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.