0517 GMT April 09, 2020
Turkey’s Parliament on Saturday approved a security and military cooperation deal signed with Tripoli government last month, state media reported, an agreement that could pave the way for military help from Ankara, Reuters reported.
A Libyan naval combat vessel stopped the Turkish ship in Libya’s territorial waters off the eastern city of Derna and towed it to Ras El Hilal port “for inspection and to verify its cargo”, spokesman Ahmed Mismari told Reuters. He gave no further details.
The eastern forces loyal to Gen. Khalifa Haftar provided Reuters with a video that shows Libyan navy forces stopping the ship and questioning three crew members. They also published copies of passports of three Turkish nationals.
It was not immediately clear what the ship was carrying. Ankara has sent military supplies to Libya in violation of a United Nations arms embargo, according to a report by UN experts seen by Reuters last month.
Turkey has been backing the Libyan Government of National Accord led by Fayez al-Serraj as it fights off a months-long offensive by Haftar’s forces.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey could deploy troops to Libya in support of the GNA, but no request has been made.
The OPEC state is in the grip of a nine-month war launched when Haftar’s Libyan National Army marched on the capital to unseat the internationally-recognized government. The war has drawn foreign intervention, with the United Nations and Turkey backing the Tripoli government and the United Arab Emirates and Egypt supporting Haftar.
The Libyan National Army has threatened to target any Turkish vessel in Libyan waters that it says is sending weapons and aid to Tripoli’s Government of National Accord. It previously rounded up several Turkish citizens in the east, only to free them after Ankara threatened to retaliate.