The commander of Libya’s east-based government, Khalifa Hafter said “men and women” would bear arms “to defend our land” after Turkey authorised the deployment of troops to support the UN-backed government in Tripoli, in the country’s west.
On Friday, Khalifa Hafter said that his government, which is seeking to capture the capital Tripoli, would “declare confrontation” with Turkish troops.
“The battle today is no longer just for the liberation of the capital. Rather, it is intensifying and fueling its flames, to become a fierce war, to become a fierce war in the face of a brute colony,” he added.
“The battle today is no longer just for the liberation of the capital. Rather, it is intensifying and fueling its flames.”
Earlier in the week, Turkish lawmakers voted at an emergency session in favour of a one-year mandate allowing the government to dispatch the troops amid concerns that the country’s forces could aggravate the conflict in Libya and destabilise the region.
Ankara has said 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.
The Tripoli-based government of Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj has faced an offensive by the rival regime in the east and forces loyal to commander General Khalifa Hifter.
“We declare confrontation and accept the challenge, organise ranks, reject our differences and declare the jihad, the general mobilisation. We will bear arms, men and women, military and civilian and prepare with all the strength that God has given us and the faith in our hearts to defend our land, our dignity, and our honour,” Hafter explained.
The fighting has threatened to plunge Libya into violent chaos rivaling the 2011 conflict that ousted and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.