Turkey ready to retaliate for hostile moves by Libya’s Haftar forces: minister

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Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar. AFP PHOTOS

Turkey has taken all measures against possible hostile moves by the forces of Libya’s Khalifa Haftar, the Turkish defense minister said on Sunday, referring to threats by Haftar’s spokesperson.

“The price of hostile attitudes or attacks will be costly, they will be responded to efficiently and decisively,” Hulusi Akar told the Anadolu news agency in Osaka, where he was part of the Turkish president’s delegation at the G20 leaders summit.

Akar said Turkey was focused on Libya’s territorial integrity and sovereignty as well as the peace and happiness of the people and the spirit of national consensus in the country; however, it would not turn a blind eye to threats.

The minister of defense emphasized that Turkey would always be part of efforts for peace and stability in line with international law to resolve disputes between parties in Libya.

Earlier on Friday Haftar’s spokesman, Ahmed al-Mismari, announced a ban on commercial flights from Libya to Turkey and ordered his forces to attack Turkish ships and interests in the country.

Libya’s UN-recognized Government of National Accord on Wednesday recaptured the strategic city of Gharyan, south of Tripoli, from Haftar’s forces, in a major loss for the renegade commander. Turkey has supported the UN-recognized government in Tripoli.

Haftar’s forces have so far been unsuccessful in seeking to capture Tripoli from the Government of National Accord in an offensive that began in April.

Nevertheless, his forces remain deployed in several areas around the capital.

Libya has been 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.

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