Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Libyan forces based in the east release Turkish ship | Middle East

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The seizure of the Turkish ship threatened to escalate tensions in the conflict-ravaged North African country.

Forces loyal to a renegade Libyan military commander, Khalifa Haftar, said on Thursday they had released a Turkish-owned ship seized last week.

The seizure of the Turkish ship threatened to escalate tensions in this conflict-ravaged North African country as Turkey is the main supporter of rivals of eastern-based forces, the UN-recognized administration in Tripoli in western Libya.

The Jamaican-flagged freighter, Mabouka, was released after local authorities questioned its crew and fined them for violating navigation rules in Libyan waters, the spokesperson for Libyan forces based in Libya wrote. is, Ahmed al-Mosmari, on his Facebook page. He did not mention the amount of the fine.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry has warned of the “dire consequences” and called on the east-based commander Haftar and his forces to allow the ship to resume its planned voyage,

The oil-rich Arab country has been divided from west to east since falling into chaos in the wake of the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

The ship was arrested on Saturday after sailing in Libyan waters without prior permission, Mosmari wrote.

He said earlier that the crew included nine Turkish sailors – seven from India and one from Azerbaijan – and did not respond to calls from naval forces.

Private security firm Dryad Global said the ship was sailing from Port Said in Egypt to the Mediterranean town of Misrata in Libya and that satellite images on Tuesday showed it was standing at the port of Ras al-Hilal, controlled by Haftar’s forces.

Haftar launched an offensive in April 2019 to try to capture the capital Tripoli from the government recognized by the UN. Throughout his march on the city, Haftar had the support of Egypt, France, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.

However, his campaign collapsed in June when allied militias in Tripoli, with strong Turkish backing, gained the upper hand in the fighting.

In October, the warring parties agreed to a UN-brokered ceasefire, an agreement that called for the departure of foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya within three months.

Haftar’s forces arrested the Mabrouka ship on Monday off the eastern port city of Derna.


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