Ankara warns warlord Haftar's militias of retaliation if Turkish interests are targeted in Libya.

Libyan government forces celebrate on the streets of Tripoli after taking down nine Russian-made Pantsir type air defence systems used by Haftar's militia.
Libyan government forces celebrate on the streets of Tripoli after taking down nine Russian-made Pantsir type air defence systems used by Haftar's militia. (AA)

Turkey reiterated on Thursday it will respond to warlord Khalifa Haftar's militia in Libya as a “legitimate target” if they attack Turkey’s interests in the country.

“We remind it once again that in case of targeting Turkish interests in Libya, this will have very heavy consequences and the putschist Haftar elements will be considered as a legitimate target,” Hami Aksoy, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said in a written statement.

Aksoy’s statement came after Haftar’s militias said they would target Turkish forces and interests.

He said the statement mirrors the defeat of Haftar’s militants on the ground, and added it was “the clearest sign” that Haftar and his supporters were trying to escalate the dispute in Libya.

The Libyan army recently destroyed many Russian-made Pantsir-type air defence systems supplied to Haftar by the United Arab Emirates. 

Earlier this week it also recaptured the key Al Watiya airbase from Haftar militias.

Turkey helps the Libyan government in military training, cooperation and consultancy, according to Turkish National Defence Minister, Hulusi Akar.

Haftar, who has targeted the government for over a year now, intensified his attacks on civilians in May due to the recent achievements of the Libyan army against the militants.

As a result, some cities and towns in the west announced their support to the Libyan government. 

Following the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya's government was founded in 2015 under a UN-led political deal.

Source: AA