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Iran Press TV

Libya rebels claim to have 'destroyed' Turkish cargo ship in Tripoli

Iran Press TV

Tuesday, 18 February 2020 2:52 PM

Armed rebels under the command of renegade general Khalifa Haftar in Libya claim they have destroyed a Turkish cargo ship carrying ammunition and weapons at the port of Tripoli.

"The Turkish ship loaded with weapons and ammunition [that] docked this morning in the port of Tripoli was destroyed," said a statement on the rebels' Facebook account on Tuesday, without providing more details.

There was no immediate reaction from Turkey, which sides with the internationally recognized government of Libya.

Other reports said that the Turkish ship, docked at Tripoli's port, had been targeted by artillery fire, and photos circulated on social media showing a large plume of smoke in the area.

Ghassan Salame, the UN's Libya envoy, confirmed that the port had been attacked but did not give details.

Since 2014, two rival seats of power have emerged in Libya: the universally recognized government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, and another group based in the eastern city of Tobruk, supported militarily by Haftar.

The rebel leader, who is primarily supported by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Jordan, launched a deadly offensive to capture the capital, Tripoli, the seat of the GNA, in April last year. Despite intense fighting, Haftar has so far failed to achieve his objective of ousting the GNA, and the offensive has stalled outside the capital.

Last month, officials from Turkey, Russia, Egypt, France, Italy, Britain, and the United States gathered in the German capital of Berlin to help establish a permanent ceasefire in Libya. Sarraj and Haftar were also present in the summit.

The final communiqué of the summit called on all the parties concerned in the conflict "to redouble their efforts for a sustained suspension of hostilities, de-escalation and a permanent ceasefire." Participants also pledged not to interfere in Libya's internal affairs and its conflict and agreed to "fully respect" the arms embargo imposed on the North African country by the UN in 2011.

However, Haftar refused to sign the joint communiqué.

The development comes just a day after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that the Libyan rebels were constantly violating the fragile ceasefire and that Haftar "must be stopped."

Turkey has been reportedly transferring allied militants from Syria to Libya to shore up the government of the North African country.

Formerly, the Libyan rebels briefly impounded a Turkish vessel on the suspicion that it was carrying weapons for the government.

On Monday, UN Deputy Special Representative to Libya Stephanie Williams described the situation in the North African country as "deeply troubling", saying that more than 150 violations had been reported since the ceasefire was agreed last month. She also condemned the ongoing breaches of a UN weapons embargo on Libya.

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