By Sami Zaptia.
London, 29 June 2019:
Khalifa Hafter, commander of the mainly eastern based Libyan National Army (LNA), is to target Turkish interests in Libya as part of his war effort.
The decision was announced last night by Ahmed Mesmari, the Official Spokesperson for Hafter and his LNA.
Speaking at a press conference last night, Mesmari declared that “since last night, the Libyan territory has been subjected to a brutal Turkish invasion, resulting in subversive acts inside the Libyan territory, and the General Command of the Armed Forces (LNA) has therefore ordered the Air Force to target ships and boats within the territorial waters and the ground forces by targeting all strategic objectives, Turkish companies, Turkish headquarters and all projects ((the Turkish State)) are legitimate targets of the armed forces in response to this aggression, and all flights ((from and to)) are stopped (Turkey and any Turkish captured inside Libyan territory.
At the time of publishing there had been no official response from Turkey.
It will be recalled that the pro Hafter forces suffered a strategic setback on Wednesday when they were forced out of their operations room and main base in the mountain city of Gharian.
Mesmari had tried to blame the loss on treachery by locals within Gharian and said that the fighting was ongoing.
However, initial reports indicate that the pro Hafter forces have been unable to muster a counter attack.
Indeed, it seems the forces aligned to the internationally recognized Tripoli government are continuing to pursue Hafter’s forces to the outskirts of Gharian.
It is unclear if and how Hafter’s forces will be able to implement their anti Turkey air and sea embargo, or whether the announcement is simply a distraction and grandstanding.
Hafter’s Air Force has been unable to dominate the air war during the fighting, with the Tripoli Air Force playing a strategic role in checking and reversing Hafter’s progress.