Turkish warship has attacked at sites controlled by Haftar militias, Turkey recently sent soldiers and military equipment to Libya. To a lesser degree, the Tripoli government is also backed by Qatar and Italy, as well as local militias.
Haftar’s army is supported by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, as well as Russia.
According to Libyan news sources, a Turkish warship has fired multiple Harpoon missiles in the south of the city of Al-Ajaylat, west of the Libyan capital of Tripoli.
A Libyan news website reported that rockets fired by a Turkish warship from the sea fell in the agricultural area of Dhahra, on the outskirts of the army-held city of Al-Ajaylat, which is under the control of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.
Local news websites suggested that the Turkish warship may have intended to target Al-Watiya Air Force Base, which is located in the south.
Libyan newspaper Al-Marsad quoted a spokesman for the General Command of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Major General Ahmed Al-Mesmari, stating that a Turkish warship had fired missiles from the sea in the Al-Ajaylat area without casualties.
Oil-rich Libya has been splintered between competing factions and militias since former leader Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown and killed during a NATO-supported uprising in 2011.
It is currently split between two rival administrations – the Tripoli-based GNA and another allied with Haftar in the eastern city of Tobruk that controls key oil fields and export terminals. Each administration is backed by an array of foreign countries.
Libya’s unity government announced late on last Tuesday it would halt its participation in UN talks aimed at brokering a lasting ceasefire in the war-torn country where a fragile truce has been repeatedly violated.
“We are announcing the suspension of our participation in the military talks taking place in Geneva until firm positions are adopted against the aggressor [Haftar] and his violations” of the truce, the GNA said in a press release.
“Without a lasting ceasefire … negotiations make no sense. There can be no peace under the bombing.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcomed the Tripoli government’s withdrawal from the military committee talks in Geneva following the attack, and said his military would support the GNA in seizing all of Libyan territory.
“If a fair agreement did not come out of the meetings in which the international community is also involved … we will support the legitimate government in Tripoli having control over the entire country,” he said.
At the UN headquarters in New York, diplomats following the negotiations in Geneva reacted with dismay.
UN Libya envoy Ghassan Salame launched the second round of talks on Tuesday in the latest international effort to end fighting between the warring sides, with five senior officers from the GNA and five appointed by Haftar’s LNA taking part.
A first round of talks ended with no result earlier this month but Salame said there was “more hope” this time, mainly because of the approval of a UN Security Council resolution calling for a “lasting ceasefire”.
EU foreign ministers agreed on Monday to launch a naval mission to enforce an arms embargo, which the UN said was being violated by air, land and sea. The naval operation will be authorised to intervene to stop weapons shipments into the North African state.
Erdogan on last Wednesday criticised the European Union’s decision to launch the new maritime effort focused on enforcing the UN arms embargo around Libya.
“I want to specifically mention that the EU does not have the right to make any decision concerning Libya,” Turkey’s president said. “The EU is trying to take charge of the situation and interfere. You have no such authority.”
In 2019, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a disputed deal with GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj that gave Turkey maritime rights to vast swaths of the eastern Mediterranean. The deal has been rejected by the EU, which backs its members Greece and Cyprus, and other countries including Egypt.
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