Turkey will heavily retaliate against any attack by Libya’s Khalifa Haftar on Turkish interests in the country, a senior Turkish official said, hours after the eastern commander’s forces vowed unprecedented air strikes, Bloomberg reports.
The exchange of threats signaled further escalation after a week of setbacks for Haftar in his war against the internationally recognized government in the capital, Tripoli.
Fathi Bashagha, that administration’s security chief, told Bloomberg at least eight Soviet-era jets have arrived in the east from a Russian airbase in Syria, possibly to assist in any new aerial campaign.
Haftar’s forces, backed by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russian mercenaries, launched the war to take Tripoli more than a year ago, pushing their way into the city’s suburbs. Turkish military intervention, however, has turned the tide in the battle for the North African OPEC member state, forcing Haftar’s troops to withdraw from a strategic airbase this week and to announce a partial pullback from the frontlines.
Turkey is well-prepared to defend its bases and other places under its protection using its drones and warships deployed near Tripoli, the senior Turkish official said Thursday, May 21. Any targeting of Turkish personnel could bring retaliatory attacks, including against Haftar’s headquarters, the person said.