Khalifa Haftar’s Forces Release Vessel With Turkish Crew After Seizure on Saturday
December 23: The forces of Libyan renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar have released a vessel with Turkish crew members seized over the weekend in the Mediterranean Sea.
Ahmad al-Masmari, a spokesman for Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army, said on Monday they found no weapons on the vessel flying a Grenada flag, which was carrying a shipment of flour from Malta to the Egyptian coastal city of Alexandria.
The vessel was seized “because it entered Libya’s territorial waters without prior permission”, the spokesman said.
The LNA seized the vessel on Saturday and took it into Ras Al Hilal, a Libyan port under its control for inspection.
The vessel’s seizure came amid tensions between the LNA and Turkey, which backs Libya’s UN-supported Government of National Accord (GNA), based in the country’s capital of Tripoli.
Since April, Haftar’s forces have led an offensive against the GNA, trying to capture Tripoli from the militias defending it.
Turkey and the GNA signed maritime and security agreements last month, drawing international outrage and concern from several Mediterranean countries.
The deals, which were approved by the Turkish parliament on Saturday, allow Ankara to provide military training and equipment at Tripoli’s request.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also said Turkey could send troops to Libya if the Tripoli government formally asked for their deployment.
Separately, EU spokesman Peter Stano cautioned on Monday that “there is no military solution to the crisis in Libya”, and called on all parties to cease their military actions.
Source: Al Jazeera