Turkey’s military has conducted air and naval exercise in the eastern Mediterranean, its defense ministry said on Friday, affirming news by the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) forces in this regard.
The drill, conducted by Turkey’s navy and air force, was dubbed an “Open Sea Training” exercise by the ministry.
Eight frigates and corvettes participated, along with 17 warplanes based in the central Turkish airbase of Eskisehir, in a 2,000-km round trip, it said in a statement.
The military said the drill was meant to test and develop Turkey’s ability to command and execute long-distance operations.
Turkey’s statement came 24 hours after the “Volcano of Rage” operation room announced that Turkish aerial and naval forces have conducted drills above the Mediterranean Sea, using E-7T airborne early warning and control aircraft.
Fayez al-Sarraj's GNA room, backed by Turkey, also noted that Ankara launched an air bridge consisting of 17 aircraft between Istanbul and Misrata, as well as frigates carrying precision-guided missiles and armed drones.
Itamilradar website, which monitors military aircraft movements over Italy and the Mediterranean Sea, said it detected on Thursday a new mission by the Turkish Air Force.
Italian Flightradar24 site confirmed the claims, pointing out that three Turkish military cargo planes and a ship carrying weapons approached the airspace of western Libya.
It said two of them took off from Istanbul airport, while the third flew from Konya military base in Misrata but returned without landing.
The Turkish cargo ship (CIRKIN), which sailed from Istanbul, was intercepted by a Greek frigate, which follows the EU's military mission in Libya Operation, known as Irini, Flightradar24 reported.
Turkish media also confirmed the Greek naval interception of a “Turkish commercial cargo ship,” which was accompanied by Turkish frigates heading to Libya.
European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell confirmed that the incident occurred in international waters off the Libyan coast.
He said Turkey opposed Irini’s inspection of the ship after it was suspected of violating the UN arms embargo on Libya.