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Libya: Official confirms legality of deals with Turkey

Turkish armed forces with Libyan military officials in Tripoli, Libya on 18 July 2020 [Mücahit Aydemir/Anadolu Agency]
Turkish armed forces with Libyan military officials in Tripoli, Libya on 18 July 2020 [Mücahit Aydemir/Anadolu Agency]

A senior Libyan official on Saturday confirmed the country's position that its security and military cooperation with Turkey is "legitimate and in accordance with international law" and could not be compared with the foreign support provided to renegade General Khalifa Haftar, with whom it has fought a years-long war.

In a statement to Anadolu Agency, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammed Al-Qablawi said he rejected any allusion to the Turkish presence in the North African country in a recent warning by UN envoy to Libya Stephanie Williams of a "serious crisis" amid at least 20,000 foreign fighters and mercenaries within its borders.

Williams was speaking in the online meeting of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum, describing these circumstances as "a shocking violation of Libyan sovereignty."

Al-Qablawi said Williams' statement was vague and did not reflect reality as she did not specify any party in particular that brought such foreign fighters.

"The Libyan-Turkish agreements can't be equated with the support Haftar receives from several countries in the form of mercenaries and weapons," Al-Qablawi said.

Security sources: 'Turkey troops remain in Libya at GNA's request'

On November 27, Turkey and Libya signed an agreement on maritime jurisdictions, drawing a portion of the sides' mutual frontier in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Both sides also signed Memoranda of Understanding on military and security cooperation, with Turkey supporting the internationally-recognised Libyan government against warlord Haftar's attacks.

Libya has been torn by civil war since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Based in the capital Tripoli and currently led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, the Government of National Accord was founded in 2015 under a UN-led agreement, but efforts for a long-term political settlement have failed due to a military offensive by Haftar.

Al-Sarraj's government, which is also supported by Turkey, is recognized by the UN as Libya's legitimate authority.

Tripoli has been battling Haftar's militias since April 2019 in a conflict that has claimed thousands of lives.

Read: Libya's defence minister announces military agreement with Italy

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