Tripoli, Dec 20 (AFP/APP): Libya’s UN-recognised unity government on Thursday approved the implementation of a military deal with Ankara, paving the way for a bigger Turkish role in the war-torn country.
Turkey has already supported the Government of National Accord (GNA) in its fight against rival forces of east Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar, who launched an offensive in April to seize Tripoli from the GNA.
Mired in chaos since the NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi eight years ago, the North African country has become split between bitterly opposed administrations in the east and west.
Each side is backed by rival regional players, with the United Arab Emirates and Egypt assisting Haftar and both Turkey and Qatar openly supporting the GNA.
Haftar’s push to seize Tripoli from “terrorists” backing the GNA stalled on the edges of the capital.
The two sides have since been locked in a bitter stalemate, with at least 200 civilians and more than 2,000 fighters killed since April, according to the United Nations.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on December 10 that Ankara was ready to send troops to Libya to support the GNA in light of a deal sealed last month with GNA head Fayez al-Sarraj.
“If Libya makes such a request from us, we can send our personnel there, especially after striking the military security agreement,” he said.
On Thursday, the GNA said its cabinet, in the presence of military officials, had “unanimously approved the implementation of the memorandum of understanding on security and military cooperation”.
It gave no further details about the terms of the agreement or the assistance Ankara could provide to pro-GNA forces.
But the UN says Turkey has already supplied them with tanks and drones in recent months.