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Turkey Escalates in Libya with Naval, Air Maneuvers

Turkey Escalates in Libya with Naval, Air Maneuvers

Thursday, 9 July, 2020 - 09:00
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar visits operations center with Interior Minister of Libya’s Government of National Accord Fathi Ali Bashagha before leaving Libya in Misrata, Libya on July 04, 2020. ( Arif Akdogan - Anadolu Agency )

Turkish and Russian chiefs of staff have discussed the latest developments in Libya in addition to Moscow's call on Ankara to mediate with the Government of National Accord to agree on a ceasefire and join the peace process.

Their talks came as the Turkish Navy announced that it would conduct massive naval exercises off Libya.

The expected maneuvers would be called “Naftex” and would take place off the Libyan coast in three different regions.

The Turkish naval drills will occur in international waters with the participation of 17 warplanes and eight naval vessels to “prove Turkey’s ability to control the region by air and sea.”

The maneuvers were announced following the visit of Turkish Naval Forces Commander Adm. Adnan Ozbal to Tripoli last week.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Chief of Staff Yasar Guler visited Tripoli as well and inspected the Turkish warship ‘TCG Giresun’ off Libya.

"Turkey is with the Libyan brothers. No one should doubt it, we will not give up on it," Akar said.

Turkey does not rule out the possibility of striking Al-Jufrah airbase, learned, citing military experts.

Such suspicions came after a video of the exercises was circulated online showing Turkish Air Force F-16 aircraft refueling in the air.

Military expert Yuri Lyamin believes that the conflict in Libya continues to develop along the path of further escalation, especially after the recent destruction of Hawk anti-aircraft missile systems at Al-Watiya airbase.

The Turkish presidency described the attack on the air defense system at the base as a “legal violation.”

Guler and his Russian counterpart Valery Gerasimov discussed Libya on Wednesday, during a phone call. This followed a statement by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that Turkey and Russia are working on an immediate ceasefire in Libya.

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