Turkish ultimatum to Haftar

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Turkey will deem the forces of Libyan General Khalifa Haftar “legitimate targets” if attacks on Turkish interests and diplomatic missions in Libya persisted.

Turkey backs Libya’s internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA). It signed a military co-operation deal with the GNA, which is fending off an offensive by Haftar’s forces.

Ankara views Haftar’s forces, backed by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia, as “putschists”.

“If our missions and interests in Libya are targeted, we will deem Haftar’s forces legitimate targets,” the foreign ministry said in a statement in which it slammed the UN for not taking action over Haftar’s attacks.

“It is unacceptable for the UN to remain silent against this carnage any longer,” it said. “Countries providing military, financial and political aid to Haftar are responsible for the suffering the people of Libya are enduring and the chaos and instability the country is dragged into.”

It added attacks on Tripoli’s Mitiga airport on Saturday, part of an intensified artillery barrage on the capital, were war crimes.

Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) has been fighting for over a year to capture Tripoli from the GNA with frequent shelling of the capital. The UN said 80% of the 130 civilian casualties recorded in the Libyan conflict in the first quarter of 2020 were caused by LNA ground fighting.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said the LNA was in a “period of regression” after NATO member Turkey threw its support behind the GNA.

“Even the efforts of countries that provide him with unlimited financial support and weapons will not save him,” Erdogan said.

Pro-GNA forces retook territory from the LNA around Tripoli during a recent escalation of fighting with the help of Turkish supplied drones.