At a press conference on Friday, Spokesperson of Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar, Ahmed Al-Mismari, has threatened to shoot down Turkish airplanes flying in the Libyan air space and destroy Turkish ships sailing in the Libyan territorial waters, three days after losing the strategic city of Gharyan.
Turkey supports Libya’s United Nations-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli which on Wednesday retook Gharyan, a strategic town south of the capital, from Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA).
Declaring Turkey as an enemy state of their forces, Al-Mismari said Haftar had issued an order to ban Libyan airlines from flying to and from Turkey.
“The General Command has instructed the air force to attack Turkish ships and boats in the territorial waters. It instructed the land forces to attack all Turkey’s strategic goals. All Turkish companies and projects are legitimate targets for our forces,” said the minister.
Al-Mismari is also known as the minister of propaganda of Haftar. He further threatened to arrest Turkish citizens and attack Turkish companies and interests in Libya.
“All flights to and from Turkey are also stopped and any Turkish (nationals) on Libyan territory will be arrested,” he added.
Haftar’s threats to Turkey are seen as “flimsy” as he is not capable of attacking any Turkish goals. The LNA, which is allied to a parallel government in the east, has failed to take Tripoli but it has commanded air superiority.
Both sides accuse each other of using foreign mercenaries and receiving military support from external powers, despite a UN arms embargo in place since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that overthrew Muammar Qaddafi’s regime.
On Saturday, on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Japan, Erdogan said he had no information on Haftar’s threat against Turkish assets.
“If there is an order like this from Haftar, my colleagues will study (it). We have already taken the necessary measures regarding this anyway, and after this, we will take much more different measures,” he said.