Turkey’s defense chief visits Libya after Haftar’s threats

523

Defense Minister Hulusi Akar traveled to Libya on Saturday flanked by top military officers to inspect Turkish units in the war-torn country.

The unscheduled visit comes after eastern Libyan putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar called on his fighters to “drive out” Turkish forces backing the United Nations-recognized government, as talks drag on to end a long-running war in the oil-rich nation.

Turkish support for the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli helped stave off an offensive by Haftar with Russian, Egyptian and United Arab Emirates backing in April 2019.

The sides struck a cease-fire agreement in October formally ending the fighting and setting the stage for elections at the end of next year.

Haftar, however, said there would “be no peace” as long the Turkish presence continues, in an address to mark Libya’s 69th anniversary of its independence on Thursday.

“We will therefore take up arms again to fashion our peace with our own hands … and, since Turkey rejects peace and opts for war, prepare to drive out the occupier by faith, will and weapons,” Haftar said.

The Turkish parliament this week adopted a motion extending the deployment of soldiers in Libya by 18 months.

SHARE