The Libyan National Army has orders to target any Turkish ships or boats it finds in Libyan territorial waters, after LNA leader Khalifa Haftar declared Turkey responsible for “illegitimate Turkish aggression which resulted in destructive acts.”
The decision announced early Saturday also says Turkish interests on Libyan soil are to be considered enemy targets, as Haftar’s forces have accused Ankara of assisting the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) and aligned militia fighters resisting the LNA.
Haftar lost the town of Gharyan, where his operations against Tripoli were based, earlier this week.
Haftar “issued orders to the ground forces to target all Turkish strategic targets such as companies, headquarters and projects belonging to the Turkish government,” said the LNA spokesman. “They are all considered legitimate targets to the Libyan Armed Forces in response to this aggression.”
Flights to and from Turkey are suspended, and any Turkish nationals will be arrested, the LNA said. While Hafter controls the eastern and southern portions of Libya, it is not clear how the LNA would enforce the declaration in areas held by the GNA, led by Fayez Al-Sarraj and based in Tripoli.
There was no immediate response from Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who is in Japan accompanying President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the G20 summit.
Haftar’s offensive on Tripoli and the GNA began on April 4 when he said he was moving against the terrorist militias operating in the region. More than 700 people have been killed in the fighting, according to the World Health Organization, with more than 100,000 people displaced.
Haftar’s stance on Turkey deepens the regional geopolitical tensions, with Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia all supporting the LNA and aligning against Turkey and Qatar.
Image: LNA file