Libyan National Army (LNA) commander Khalifa Haftar declared on Friday “jihad” against any Turkish military intervention in Libya.
Speaking from the eastern city of Benghazi, he said: “We declare jihad and complete mobilization. Every free Libyan must carry arms, men and women, military and civilian, to defend our territories and honor.”
“The enemy is amassing its troops today to invade Libya and enslave our people once again. He has found traitors that have signed an agreement of humiliation and disgrace without any popular, constitutional or moral backing,” he added.
“The traitors have scrambled to their masters to appeal for relief and help after they were overwhelmed from all sides,” he said of the LNA’s offensive against criminal gangs and militias loyal to the Government of National Accord in Tripoli.
Turkey’s parliament on Thursday authorized the deployment of troops to Libya to support the GNA.
Ankara says the deployment is vital for Turkey to safeguard its interests in Libya and in the eastern Mediterranean, where it finds itself increasingly isolated as Greece, Cyprus, Egypt and Israel have established exclusive economic zones paving the way for oil and gas exploration.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday called again for an immediate ceasefire in Libya and a return to talks by all the warring parties.
The UN chief warned in a statement from his deputy spokesman that “any foreign support to the warring parties will only deepen the ongoing conflict and further complicate efforts to reach a peaceful and comprehensive political solution.”
The Turkish parliament’s decision to deploy troops was condemned by neighboring Egypt in what its foreign ministry called “the strongest language.”
The leaders of Greece, Israel and Cyprus also denounced the move as a “dangerous threat to regional stability" and a “dangerous escalation” of the Libyan conflict that violates UN resolutions and undermines international peace efforts.
Guterres reiterated that continued violations of the UN arms embargo in Libya “only makes matters worse,” UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said.
The UN chief stressed that “strict adherence to the embargo is essential for creating an environment favorable to a cessation of hostilities,” Haq said.