After recent defeats in the battle for Tripoli, spokesperson of Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar has accused Turkey of supporting rival armed groups in his country and has threatened to take military action against Turkish assets and forces.

Iran Press/Africa: Three days after losing the strategic city of Gharyan in south Tripoli, spokesperson of Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar, Ahmed Al-Mismari, threatened to shoot down Turkish airplanes flying in the Libyan air space and destroy Turkish ships sailing in Libyan territorial waters.  

Haftar’s westward assault on Tripoli launched on April 4, faced a major setback last month when GNA-allied militias took control of Gharyan. This battle marked a significant defeat for the overstretched Libyan National Army (LNA), Iran Press reported.

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Al-Mismari said that his group has the capability and tools to encounter Turkey. Declaring Turkey as an enemy state of their forces, he said Haftar had issued an order to ban Libyan airlines from flying to and from Turkey.

“The General Command has instructed the air force to attack Turkish ships and boats in the territorial waters. It instructed the land forces to attack all Turkey’s strategic goals. All Turkish companies and projects are legitimate targets for our forces,” he said.

After the detention of 6 Turkish citizens in Libya, Turkey’s Foreign Minister called it “totally unacceptable” and Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar also warned that there would be a “heavy price for hostile attitudes or attacks."

Turkey’s foreign ministry recently has announced that the six Turkish sailors have been released, a day after Turkey warned his Libyan National Army (LNA) militia would become a “legitimate target” unless the men were released immediately.

Libya’s Haftar, Turkey Tensions

Since the beginning of what is commonly referred to as ‘The Second Libyan Civil War’, the north African country has become a playground for various militias at least since 2014.

Turkey has supported the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli.

Given the influential roles that various Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated groups play in the GNA, many observers conclude that Turkey’s ruling party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), supports the Tripoli-based government for ideological reasons.

Despite Haftar’s threats and attacks and answers from the Turkish side, some believe that Turkey will not get involved in the Libyan war because Turks know that there can be no military solution to the crisis as the political process is the only way out of the current conflict.

Some reports have previously said that some Persian Gulf monarchies including Saudi Arabia, UAE and, Egypt as well as Israel and some Western powers have been supporting and arming Haftar’s Libya National Army (LNA) since 2014, but details have been unclear.

Aiming to take control of the capital city, his surprise assault on Tripoli on April 4, when United Nations had been preparing for a national conference to try to end the chaos gripping Libya, left at least one thousand people dead and more than 44 hundred injured.

Libya has been mired in the civil war, pitting the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli against a rival administration in Tobruk, the House of Representatives (HoR), which is allied with General Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA).   212/211/104 

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