Turkey lends support to Libya's embattled prime minister - The Libyan Report

Turkey lends support to Libya's embattled prime minister

Turkey lends support to Libya’s embattled prime minister

ISTANBUL — Turkey’s president has met with the head of Libya’s U.N.-recognized government, after heightened tensions between Turkey and forces loyal to a rival Libyan authority.

In a statement from his office late Friday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated his support for Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj’s “legitimate” government.

Libya is split between two warring governments. Sarraj leads the weakened Tripoli government in the west, supported by an array of militias.

The self-styled Libyan National Army of Khalifa Hifter rules much of the rest of the country. His ongoing offensive to seize the capital has threatened to plunge Libya into another bout of violence on the scale of the conflict that ousted Moammar Khadafy in 2011.

Erdogan called on Hifter’s forces to cease their attacks.

The military commander’s forces have said Turkish vessels and interests would be considered targets, after accusing Turkey of helping militias allied with the Tripoli government.

The LNA also said it deployed more troops to join the Tripoli fighting.

The reinforcements come less than two weeks after Hifter’s forces were driven out of the strategic town of Gharyan, in a surprise attack by militiamen aligned with the Tripoli government.

The U.N. health agency said the death toll from the fighting around the capital has reached nearly 1000, including 53 who were killed in an air strike on the Tajoura detention center for migrants.

In a telephone call Saturday, Erdogan spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the Libyan crisis. Hifter is backed by Russia, along with Arab allies United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

Zeynep Bilginsoy and Sam Magdy are Associated Press writers. source