Libya internationally recognised government has formally requested from Turkey “air, ground and sea” military support to fend off an offensive from warlord Khalifa Haftar’s militia to take the capital Tripoli, a Libyan official said on Thursday.
Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan said earlier on Thursday that his country will send troops to Libya at the request of Tripoli as soon as next month.
Speaking in Ankara, Erdogan added the Turkish parliament will in January vote on a motion to send troops to Libya to support the UN-backed government in Tripoli.
“We will present the motion to send troops (to Libya) as soon as parliament resumes” on January 7, Erdogan said.
“God willing, we will pass it in parliament on January 8-9 and thus respond to an invitation” from the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, he said.
Erdogan’s comments come after Turkey’s parliament on Saturday ratified a security and military cooperation deal with the Libyan government of Fayez al Sarraj.
Turkish military aid needed to fight Haftar
Libya’s Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha said that the GNA will officially demand military aid from Turkey.
Addressing a news conference in Tripoli, Bashagha said the aid will be used to confront the militants of warlord Khalifa Haftar, who is fighting the GNA.
He alleged that Haftar was providing bases and airports to foreign countries.
He reiterated that Turkey, Tunisia and Algeria will form a joint alliance.
“There will be great cooperation between Turkey, Tunisia and Algeria, and we will be in one alliance and this will serve our people, our security the stability in the region.”
Referring to a meeting between President Erdogan and Tunisian President Kais Saied on Wednesday, he said: “We welcome any initiative that is inclusive of all Libyans as well as any initiative that must be under the auspices of the United Nations.”
“We [Turkey and Libya] must unite efforts to launch a political process for a cease-fire in Libya,” he added.
Civil war in Libya in 2011 resulted in pro-GNA forces and warlord Khalifa Haftar’s militia vying for control of the North African country.
Erdogan on Wednesday paid an unannounced visit to Tunisia with his defence minister and spy chief to discuss ways of reaching a ceasefire in Libya.
Erdogan has in recent weeks vowed to increase military support to the GNA if needed as it battles Haftar, who launched an offensive in April to seize the capital.
Turkey and Qatar back the GNA, while Haftar has received support from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Russia, all of whom have tense relations with Turkey.
Erdogan said he also agreed with Tunisia to support the Sarraj government in Libya against the warlord Haftar.
Moscow last month denied reports in the New York Times that it had sent had mercenaries to fight on Haftar’s side, while the UN has also accused Haftar’s militia of recruiting fighters from Sudan.
Erdogan has said Turkey will not stay silent over mercenaries from the Kremlin-linked Wagner group supporting Haftar.
“Russia is there with 2,000 Wagner (fighters),” Erdogan said on Thursday, also referring to some 5,000 fighters from Sudan in Libya. “Is the official government inviting them? No,” he said.
“They are helping a warlord. We are responding to an invitation from the legitimate government of Libya,” Erdogan said on Thursday. “That is our difference.”