Turkey’s troops to remain in Libya – Erdogan

FILE PHOTO: A fighter of Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) of Fayez Serraj, fires his rifle during clashes with forces of the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar, at Al-Khalla frontline./ Getty Images

Turkey has no plans of withdrawing its troops from Libya, and will continue offering support to the United Nations-recognised Government of National Accord, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

The Turkish leader made the remarks at a joint press conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Istanbul.

“We are determined not to leave our Libyan brothers alone during these difficult days,” President Erdogan said in the Friday briefing.

“Supporting Libya’s Government of National Accord [GNA] is not an option, but an obligation pursuant to the UN Resolution 2259.”

On her part, Merkel urged the Libyan warring factions to build on the ceasefire to ensure lasting peace in the North African country.

Libya has been dogged by war since December 2011, and the situation heightened in early 2019 when Gen. Khalifa Hafter pledged to take over Tripoli from the GNA led by Fayez al-Sarraj.

Hafter announced in early December a final push to take Tripoli from al-Sarraj’s government, unleashing heavy clashes on the southern edges of the city.

Since 2011, the Libyan war has killed thousands and displaced millions as militant groups and human trafficking cells sought to impose their command in various regions across the country.

Earlier this month, France and Egypt called for the “greatest restraint” by Libyan and international authorities to avoid an escalation of the conflict that has rocked the country for months.

The ceasefire agreement now in place, though fragile, has been welcomed by a U.N. peacekeeping mission as well as regional and international actors.