Turkey is beginning to send troops into Libya in support of the internationally recognised government in Tripoli, President Tayyip Erdogan said ahead of a summit in Berlin addressing the Libyan conflict.
Last week Turkey and Russia urged Libya’s warring parties to declare a ceasefire. Despite talks in Moscow aimed at halting Khalifa Haftar’s months-long campaign to seize the Libyan capital, the two sides were unable to reach an agreement when Haftar did not sign a binding truce.
Turkey, which backs Fayez al-Serraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA), previously said it sent a training and co-operation team which is now active in Libya.
On Thursday, Erdogan said Turkey was starting deployment of troops to Libya and would use all diplomatic and military means to ensure stability to its south.
“In order for the legitimate government in Libya to remain standing and for stability to be established, we are sending soldiers to this country,” Erdogan told an event in Ankara.
Erdogan warned Turkey will not refrain from “teaching a lesson” to Haftar’s eastern Libyan forces if attacks against the GNA continue.
On Sunday Germany will host a summit on Libya involving the rival camps, their main foreign backers and representatives from the United Nations, the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, Turkey and Italy. Haftar and Serraj are invited, but it is unclear if they will attend.
Turkey and Libya signed agreements in November, one on military co-operation and another on maritime boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean. Erdogan said Turkey will start granting licenses for exploration and drilling in the region.
“In the areas that remain between Turkey and Libya, it is now legally impossible for there to be exploration and drilling activities or a pipeline without the approval of both sides,” he said.
“After these licensing efforts, our Oruc Reis seismic exploration ship will begin operations in the region,” he added.
Greece, Cyprus and other regional stakeholders oppose the accord calling it illegal. Turkey rejects the accusations.