Turkey has been violating the UN embargo by sending arms and militants from Syria to Libya, a spokesman for Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) claimed as he showed videos that allegedly proved Ankara’s violations.
Turkey “continues its aggression against our country” by supporting the rivaling Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), Major General Ahmed al-Mesmari, the LNA’s official spokesman, said during a press-conference.
Once prosperous, Libya remains divided since 2011 when NATO led a bombing campaign to overthrow the country’s longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi. The fighting between the LNA and Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj’s GNA intensified last year, with international efforts to bring peace to the country, including those by Russia, so far being in vain. Haftar’s forces have been advancing on Tripoli for months, but the tide has changed recently, with the UN-recognized GNA now being on a counteroffensive.
Turkey’s interference is to blame for the failure of all initiatives aimed at settling the crisis, al-Mesmari insisted. “Until this hostile force is removed from the Libyan land, the radical elements will keep sowing discord and bloodshed.”
Ankara has been violating the UN arms embargo and supplying the GNA with hundreds of armored vehicles, artillery pieces, UAVs, heavy machine guns, other offensive weapons and loads of ammunition, he claimed.
Haftar’s spokesman then showed a video, which according to him, was captured by a dash cam from a Turkish-made APC that was seized by the LNA fighters. The recording showed the vehicle’s journey from a production facility in Turkey’s Izmir to the hands of rivaling forces inside Libya.
But the spokesman claimed that Ankara’s involvement wasn’t limited to illegal arms supplies as the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was also actively deploying manpower to the war-torn country.
There were around 1,500 Turkish army servicemen and private security firm contractors in Libya. The LNA was also aware of some 2,500 Turkish commandos being all set to move into the country, al-Mesmari said.
“Neglecting all its obligations in fighting against terrorism, the Turkish government has organized transfer of extremists, who were defeated in Syria, to the Libyan territory,” he said, claiming Ankara has already deployed 7,000 militants from Syria to the country.
Al-Mesmari’s press conference was accompanied by videos that he claimed showed the captured militants, photos of their IDs and other materials.
Ankara and the GNA signed a military cooperation deal and a maritime boundaries agreement in November last year. Ankara sees Libya as a partner in exploring the gas-rich areas of the Mediterranean, which causes anger from other regional players like Greece, Egypt and Cyprus. In line with those agreements, Turkey offered military assistance to its new Libyan partners in late 2019, which was accepted by Tripoli.
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