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Turkey says Haftar forces must withdraw from Sirte for lasting Libya ceasefire

Members of the self-proclaimed eastern Libyan National Army (LNA) special forces gather in the city of Benghazi, on their way to reportedly back up fellow LNA fighters on the front line west of the city of Sirte who are facing forces loyal to the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), on June 18, 2020.
Members of the self-proclaimed eastern Libyan National Army (LNA) special forces gather in the city of Benghazi, on their way to reportedly back up fellow LNA fighters on the front line west of the city of Sirte who are facing forces loyal to the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), on June 18, 2020. © Abdullah Doma, AFP
Text by: NEWS WIRES
2 min

Turkey on Saturday said Khalifa Haftar's forces in eastern Libya need to withdraw from the strategic city of Sirte for a lasting ceasefire and accused France of "jeopardising" NATO security by backing him.

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Ibrahim Kalin, the presidential spokesman, told AFP that Turkey supports the position of the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, and that Sirte and Al-Jufra should be evacuated by Haftar's forces for a "sustainable ceasefire."

Libya has been mired in chaos since a Western-backed 2011 uprising toppled longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi only to leave rival warlords fighting for control of the country's oil wealth and drawing in international powers as the conflict has ebbed and flowed.

Turkey has forged strong ties with GNA head Fayez al-Sarraj, sending sophisticated drones and air defence systems that helped him repel Haftar's recent offensive.

A high-level Turkish delegation including Kalin, the foreign minister and intelligence chief paid a visit to Tripoli on Wednesday on an unannounced trip.

Kalin said a ceasefire in Libya would be possible if everybody went back to their positions in 2015, referring to an agreement reached that year.

"This is the position of the GNA and we support it because right now the Haftar forces are using strategic locations as their launching pad against the legitimate government," said Kalin.

"They are also using these places to use Libyan oil resources to finance their war."

He warned against a rushed truce.

"A rushed, premature ceasefire will not lead to what we want to achieve for all Libyans there."

Kalin also accused France of "jeopardising" NATO's security by supporting Haftar, whose forces have been conducting an offensive to take the capital Tripoli since last year.

"In Libya we are supporting the legitimate government and the French government is supporting an illegitimate warlord and jeopardising NATO security, Mediterranean security, North African security and Libya's political stability," he said.

(AFP)

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