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UN-backed Libyan gov’t accepts Turkey’s military, logistical support offer: report

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Libya’s United Nations-recognized government has accepted an offer from Turkey for military and logistical support as it seeks to repel an offensive led by forces loyal to renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar, Al Jazeera reported, citing sources.

The Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) on Thursday moved to put into action a security accord brokered with Ankara in November, Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud Abdelwahed reported from the Libyan capital.

“We are getting news from sources with the GNA in Tripoli after a very important meeting between government officials and military commanders … involved with defending the capital from Haftar’s forces,” Abdelwahed said.

“They say they are now putting in action the memorandum of understanding that was sealed between the UN-recognized Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to entail military and security cooperation,” he added.

Last month, the GNA and Turkey signed a deal on maritime boundaries, angering Greece and Egypt, and another pact on military cooperation.

Libya splintered into a patchwork of competing power bases following the NATO-backed overthrow of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

It has been split into rival eastern and western administrations since 2014, with the GNA currently controlling Tripoli, situated in northwestern Libya, and a parallel administration holding the east of the oil-rich country, supported by Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA).

Haftar’s forces in April launched a campaign to wrestle control of the capital in April but have been unable to break through the GNA’s defenses. Last week, Haftar said that a “decisive battle” to capture the city would commence imminently.

Turkish officials have previously said Ankara may send troops to Libya if the GNA requested it, but Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Saturday that no such request had yet been made.

On Wednesday President Erdoğan said his government was ready to help the GNA.

“We will speed up the process between Turkey and Libya. We told them that we are always ready to help if they need it. From military and security cooperation, to steps taken regarding our maritime rights — we are ready,” he was cited as saying by broadcaster NTV.

That came after the Kremlin said on Tuesday that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Erdoğan would discuss Ankara’s offer to provide military support to the GNA during talks in Turkey scheduled to take place next month.

Speaking at a press conference in Moscow on Thursday, Putin said he wanted to see an end to the conflict in Libya and then talks between the two opposing sides to begin.

Putin said he would discuss Libya with a Turkish delegation in Russia in the coming days. Moscow and Ankara have backed different sides in the conflict.

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