Turkish sailors detained in Libya arrive in Istanbul

Turkish sailors detained in Libya arrive in Istanbul

ISTANBUL-Anadolu Agency
Turkish sailors detained in Libya arrive in Istanbul

Six Turkish sailors detained in Libya by forces loyal to commander Khalifa Haftar returned home on July 9.

Onur Çakır, Mehmet Yılmaz Odabaşı, Eyüp Eryılmaz, Necmettin Demirhan, Eren Çakır and Birol Kutlu flew from Libya's capital Tripoli to Istanbul.

“My internet was limited, so I contacted my family as much as possible. I kept saying I was fine. We were fine. We went through a lot of stuff, but I tried not to mention it,” Onur Çakır told reporters.

“May Allah be pleased with Mr. President, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and our ambassador to Libya. They were really involved in our situation. Our boss in Libya, Mr. Samir, also took care of us. May Allah be pleased with all of them. There is no place like our country,” said Eyüp Eryılmaz.

On June 28, Haftar's spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari announced a ban on commercial flights from Libya to Turkey and said Haftar had ordered his forces to attack Turkish ships and interests in the country.

Following the move, the Turkish Embassy in Tripoli said on its website that its citizens should avoid any steps that would jeopardize their security and safety in the regions under control of the illegal militia loyal to Haftar.

Also, Turkey's Foreign Ministry urged Haftar's militia to release the Turkish citizens they had detained, adding that otherwise, Haftar elements would become legitimate targets.

On July, 1, the sailors were released and returned to their ship.

Libya has remained beset by turmoil since 2011 when a bloody NATO-backed uprising led to the ouster and death of long-serving President Muammar Gaddafi after more than four decades in power.

Since then, Libya's stark political divisions have yielded two rival seats of power -- one in Tobruk and another in Tripoli -- and a host of heavily armed militia groups.