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Turkey calls for withdrawal of Haftar forces from Sirte for lasting Libya ceasefire

PHOTO: Foreign Policy

Turkey on Saturday said Khalifa Haftar’s forces in eastern Libya need to withdraw from the strategic city of Sirte for a lasting ceasefire and accused France of “jeopardizing” NATO security by backing him, AFP reported.

İbrahim Kalin, the presidential spokesman, told AFP that Turkey supports the position of the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and that Sirte and Al-Jufra should be vacated by Haftar’s forces for a “sustainable ceasefire.”

Libya has been mired in chaos since a Western-backed 2011 uprising toppled longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi, only to leave rival warlords fighting for control of the country’s oil wealth and drawing in international powers as the conflict has ebbed and flowed.

Turkey has forged strong ties with GNA head Fayez al-Sarraj, sending sophisticated drones and air defense systems that helped him repel Haftar’s recent offensive.

A high-level Turkish delegation including Kalın, the foreign minister and intelligence chief paid a visit to Tripoli on Wednesday on an unannounced trip.

Kalın said a ceasefire in Libya would be possible if everybody went back to their positions of 2015, referring to an agreement reached that year.

“This is the position of the GNA, and we support it because right now the Haftar forces are using strategic locations as their launching pad against the legitimate government,” said Kalin.

“They are also using these places to use Libyan oil resources to finance their war.”

He warned against a rushed truce.

“A rushed, premature ceasefire will not lead to what we want to achieve for all Libyans there.”

Kalın also accused France of “jeopardizing” NATO’s security by supporting Haftar, whose forces have been conducting an offensive to take the capital Tripoli since last year.

“In Libya we are supporting the legitimate government, and the French government is supporting an illegitimate warlord and jeopardizing NATO security, Mediterranean security, North African security and Libya’s political stability,” he said.

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