Militias loyal to Libya’s warlord Khalifa Haftar will be seen as legitimate targets if they attempt to attack Turkish troops in Libya, Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Sunday, one day after visiting Tripoli.
Akar explained that if Haftar’s militias take such a step, they will be unable to find any place to flee to, adding that everyone should come to their senses, and warning Haftar’s militias of reckless conduct, while referring to Haftar as a war criminal and murderer.
During his visit to Turkish troops in Libya, Akar underlined the nearly 500-year historical and cultural ties between Turkey and Libya, saying Ankara cooperated with the Tripoli-based legitimate Government of National Accord (GNA) at a time when other global actors hesitated.
He also noted that the UN-recognized GNA is the only legitimate government in the country, indicating that putschist Haftar’s militias and those who support him are the real problems in Libya.”
“The 21 mass graves found in the city of Tarhouna again revealed Haftar’s massacres. Unfortunately, the world continues its silent, but we believe that the GNA will not let this crime against humanity go.” Akar said.
The Turkish Defense Minister urged the international courts to continue their investigations into Haftar’s war crimes and hold him accountable for what he did.
Akar paid a visit to Libya’s capital, Tripoli, on Saturday and met with senior Libyan officials during which the two sides underlined their bilateral cooperation, two days after Haftar urged his fighters to drive out Turkish forces from the country.
Accompanied by Turkey’s Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Guler and other military commanders, Akar met with Libya’s Head of the High Council of State Khalid Mishri, Defense Minister Salah Al-Namroush and Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha.
In his meeting with Bashagha, Akar said the GNA had accomplished great things, expressing hopes that it could bring all of its work to fruition so Libyans continue to live in peace and security.
The Turkish and Libyan officials agreed during the talks to pursue their coordination in a bid to repel any hostile action by Haftar that could destabilize Libya.