Troops loyal to Libya's internationally recognized government patrol the area in Zamzam, near Abu Qareen, Libya September 15, 2020. REUTERS
The European Union on Monday imposed sanctions on three companies -- one Turkish, one Kazakh and one Jordanian -- for breaching the UN arms embargo on Libya, diplomatic sources told AFP.
Foreign ministers from the bloc signed off on the measures, which freeze any EU assets held by the companies as well as cutting them off from EU finance markets and barring them from doing business with anyone in the bloc, at a regular meeting in Brussels.
The EU has a naval mission operating in waters off Libya which is tasked with policing the embargo and collecting intelligence on violators, but Monday's measures are the bloc's first independent sanctions related to the conflict.
Libya has endured almost a decade of violent chaos since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed veteran dictator Moamer Kadhafi.
The country is divided between the Government of National Accord in the capital Tripoli in the west and Libya's Parliament in the east.
But there have been signs of progress, with representatives from the two sides meeting for peace talks in Morocco after last month announcing a surprise ceasefire and pledging national elections.
"After many months I see a reason for cautious optimism. There is a positive momentum, there is a ceasefire and we need to use it," EU diplomatic chief Josep Borrell said as he arrived for the foreign ministers' talks.
But the targeting of a Turkish company risks inflaming already tense relations between Ankara and the EU following a recent flare-up in the eastern Mediterranean over oil and gas reserves.