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Turkey warns Haftar it will respond to any attack

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar warned on Sunday that Khalifa Haftar's forces and their backers based in eastern Libya would be seen as “legitimate targets” if they tried to attack Turkish forces in the region, global news agencies report.
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Turkey is the main advocate of the internationally recognised Government of National Consent (GNA) in Libya, based in Tripoli, which, from years fought with the Libyan National Army of Haftar (LNA). The LNA is backed by Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

In October, GNA and LNA signed a ceasefire agreement and the UN is pushing for political dialogue aimed at elections next year. On Wednesday, Russia called for an intensification of international efforts for a peace settlement in Libya.

Speaking during a visit by Turkish troops to Tripoli, Akar said Haftar had begun calling for Turkish forces in Libya and calling for attacks on Turkish troops.

"This war criminal, bandit Haftar and his supporters should know that in the event of an attempted attack launched against Turkish forces, the forces of the assassin Haftar will be seen as legitimate targets everywhere,” Akar said.

"They need to get this in their heads. If they do something like that, they'll have nowhere to run. Here everyone must contribute to achieving a political solution. Every move other than this is wrong. '

Turkey sent military personnel and equipment to GNA, helping to change the course of the war in Libya, while also engaging in negotiations with Moscow on a solution to the conflict between GNA and LNA.

Both sides stopped withdrawing forces from the front, as required by the armistice. A UN panel of experts describes foreign backers from both countries as violators of Libya's arms embargo.

Last month, Turkey and Germany quarreled over a search of a Turkish cargo ship by a European Union military mission in the Mediterranean, aimed at implementing the Libyan arms embargo, in a move that Ankara has called illegal.

This month, the LNA also intercepted a Jamaican flag Turkish ship heading towards the port of Misrata, prompting an angry response from Ankara. The ship was later released.

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