Turkey warns Haftar against attacking its forces in Libya

Defence Minister Hulusi Akar visits Libya, says Turkey will retaliate against any attack by rebel general Khalifa Haftar.

Turkish support for the GNA earlier this year helped repel a 14-month offensive against the capital by Haftar [Arif Akdogan/Anadolu]

Turkey’s defence minister said that any attack by eastern Libyan renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar on its personnel in the North African country would be met with force.

“A war criminal, murderer Haftar and his supporters must know that they will be seen as a legitimate target in case of any attack on Turkish forces” by his troops, Hulusi Akar said in an address to Turkish units in Tripoli late on Saturday and made available to the media on Sunday.

His comments come days after Haftar said his self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) would “prepare to drive out the occupier by faith, will and weapons”, referring to the Turkish troops operating in support of Libya’s United Nations-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).

“If they take such a step, they will be unable to find any place to flee to,” Akar said, referring to Haftar’s forces.

“Everyone should come to their senses.”

Turkish support for the GNA earlier this year helped repel a 14-month offensive against the capital by Haftar, who is backed by Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

The two sides struck a ceasefire agreement in October, setting the stage for elections at the end of next year.

Akar’s visit

Akar on Saturday made an unscheduled visit to Tripoli where he discussed, according to Libyan officials, military cooperation between Ankara and the GNA.

Turkey’s defence minister said political talks based on the ceasefire sought to find a solution.

“What matters here is that everyone should contribute to a political solution. Any action other than that would be wrong,” he added.

Haftar had said there would be “no peace in the presence of a coloniser on our land” in his speech on Thursday.

Al Jazeera’s correspondent Mahmoud Abdel Wahed, reporting from the Libyan capital Tripoli, said a senior Egyptian delegation including the country’s defence minister and intelligence chief deputies were in the city to meet government officials.

“Regional players are pushing for a peaceful solution instead of a military one,” Abdel Wahed said.

“A high-profile Egyptian delegation met with the internationally-recognised government in Tripoli. This is the first time in six years,” he added.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies