Haftar forces to pay heavy price for any aggression, says Turkish defence minister

by on 1 July 2019

There will be an effective and strong retaliation from Turkey in the face of any aggression by the Eastern Libyan forces loyal to commander Khalifa Haftar, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Sunday.

Akar’s statements arrive after forces loyal to Haftar said the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) would target Turkish ships and companies, ban flights and arrest Turkish nationals in the country following a major setback against Haftar’s rivals, who he accuses Ankara of backing, in his push to take the capital Tripoli.

The Turkish defence minister underlined that Turkey was trying to contribute to regional peace and stability in Libya, while speaking to reporters at the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan.

“Any aggression or hostile movements toward us while we are trying to contribute to regional peace and stability will pay a very heavy price and face most effective and strong retaliation. We are prepared against any hostilities towards us,” independent news site Diken quoted Akar as saying.

The LNA’s offensive against the capital Tripoli began in April, however, the country has suffered unrest since the 2011, when long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi was deposed and killed.

The offensive by Haftar’s eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA), backed mainly by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, against Tripoli has been blocked by forces loyal to the capital on the city’s outskirts. Haftar maintains the government in Tripoli is mainly backed by Qatar and Turkey, a claim Ankara denies.