Turkey says attack on its interests in Libya will have “grave consequences”

The Haftar-led army is allied with Libya's eastern-based government. The politically divided North African country has been struggling to make a democratic transition amid clashes and chaos since the fall of former leader Muammar Gaddafi's government in 2011.

Turkey on Thursday said it will not bow to Libyan National Army (LNA) commander Khalifa Haftar’s threats to launch airstrikes against Turkish elements in Libya and emphasized any attack on Turkish interests would have “grave consequences.”

“It is striking that the threats by Haftar militias to attack Turkish forces and interests come in the wake of deployment of new warplanes in eastern Libya by foreign support,” Turkey’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy said in a written statement.

“Haftar and his supporters intend to escalate the conflict in Libya,” Aksoy stated.

He said that Ankara reminds once again that if Turkish interests in Libya are targeted, this will have severe consequences and Turkey will consider the Haftar elements as “legitimate targets.”

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had a phone conversation with his Russian counterpart on the issue of Libya on Thursday.

Turkey’s reaction came after media reports that Russia sent at least eight warplanes to help Haftar.

Turkey backs the Tripoli-based Government National Accord (GNA) led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and has signed a military cooperation agreement to support its fight against Haftar. Turkey sent troops to Libya as part of this accord.

Since the uprising which killed former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, Libya has been divided between the powers of GNA and the eastern-based LNA.