Turkey's defence minister flies to Libya: Media report

AFP , Saturday 26 Dec 2020

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar travelled to Libya on Saturday flanked by top military officers to inspect Turkish units in the war-torn country, the official Anadolu news agency reported.

The unscheduled visit comes after Libyan Commander Khalifa Haftar called on Libyan National Army (LNA) to "drive out" Turkish forces backing the UN-recognised government, as talks drag on to end a long-running war in the oil-rich nation.

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

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

But Haftar said there would "be no peace in the presence of a coloniser on our land," 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.

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