TRIPOLI

Libya’s UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) on Wednesday denounced the unauthorized presence of a French Rafale fighter jet and fuel supply plane above the Misrata and Abugrein areas.

The Tripoli-based GNA accuses several regional and European countries of providing military support to militias loyal to renegade general Khalifa Haftar, who contests the GNA’s legitimacy and authority in the oil-rich country.

The French aircraft were seen above the city of Misrata, some 200 kilometers (124 miles) east of the capital Tripoli, and Abugrein, Misrata’s southeastern gate, without receiving the necessary permission from the National Accord government, the GNA said in a condemnation on Facebook.

The French Foreign Ministry responded that it would communicate with the French Ministry of Defense and inform the Libyan side.

Haftar unilaterally declared himself the ruler of Libya on Monday, claiming that he “accepted the mandate of the Libyan people” and terming the 2015 UN-brokered Skhirat agreement for a unified government in the country “a thing of the past.”

Since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: Haftar in eastern Libya, supported mainly by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, and the GNA in Tripoli, which enjoys the UN and international recognition.

Haftar’s self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA) launched a failed offensive to take Tripoli last April, which caused bloodshed and suffering but stalled on the outskirts of the city.

*Bassel Ibrahim contributed to this report from Ankara

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