6 Turkish nationals held by Libya’s Haftar supporters released: report

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Forces loyal to Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar patrol in the southern Libyan city of Sebha, on February 9, 2019. (Photo by - / AFP) (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)

Six Turkish sailors detained by the forces of East Libyan-based commander Khalifa Haftar have been released, according to Turkish Foreign Ministry sources, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

The sailors returned to their ship, said the sources.

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.

The Turkish Embassy in Tripoli advised its citizens on Sunday to avoid any steps that would jeopardize their safety in the regions under the control of the illegal militia loyal to Haftar.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry also urged Haftar’s militia to release the Turkish citizens they detained in Libya, adding that Haftar’s forces would otherwise become a legitimate target.

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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