Turkey Sunday vowed to hit with utter force forces loyal to Libyan east-based Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar who said his self-imposed Libyan National Army will attack Turkish military presence, aircraft and ships in the country.
“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,” Turkish defense minister, Hulusi Akar, told reporters in Japan on the sidelines of the G20 summit.
The comments came following Haftar’s threats to harm Turkish military presence in Libya and his pledge to treat any commercial Turkish aircraft and ship as hostile.
Haftar has accused Qatar and Turkey of supplying military equipment to Tripoli-based UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), which has been trying to fend off Haftar’s offensive to take control of the Libyan capital over alleged presence of terrorists in the city.
The GNA’s aid organization, High Council of State (HCS) reportedly criticized Haftar’s threats towards Turkey noting that the menaces amount to “declaration of war”. It also vowed that the GNA will confront Haftar in the event of any attack on Turkish interests.
Ankara is widely known as a staunch GNA-ally. It pledged to help the UN-backed government repeal Haftar’s offensive. It sent in May dozens of armored vehicles to forces loyal to GNA.
Haftar is supported by the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and France.