ANKARA

Countries like France that are supporting self-styled general Khalifa Haftar in Libya are at the wrong side of history, Turkey’s presidential spokesman said Monday.

In a live interview with France 24 channel, Ibrahim Kalin said: “We believe that anyone who is still supporting Haftar is on the wrong side in the Libyan conflict.”

He noted that Haftar’s supporters should realize he is not a reliable partner in Libya.

“Turkey sent some advisors to help them [Libyan government] to bring a degree of balance to the conflict,” he added.

He reiterated the need for a political solution in Libya, which Libyan government head Fayez Mustafa al-Sarraj also calls for.

He went on to say that Haftar, based in East Libya, continues to attack his own people, sending ripples of violence across the country.

Libya’s government, which has been under attack by Haftar’s forces since April 2019, launched Operation Peace Storm on March 26 to counter attacks on the capital Tripoli and other parts of northwest Libya.

Following the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya’s government was founded in 2015 under a UN-led political agreement.

Earlier this year, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said more than 2,000 Russian Wagner mercenaries were fighting in the war-ravaged country.

Syrian conflict and S-400

Kalin also touched upon the conflict in Syria and the tensions with the US administration over Russian S-400 defense systems.

Turkey’s differences with France and the US on Syria are due to the latter’s support for PYD/YPG, a Syrian offshoot of terrorist group PKK, he said.

He went on to say Ankara postponed the activation of the S-400 systems due to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, he said, Turkey was open to negotiations if the US agrees to send Patriot missiles.

Turkey’s acquisition of the advanced S-400 Russian air defense system prompted the US to remove Turkey from the F-35 program in July. The US argues the system could be used by Russia to covertly obtain classified details on the jet, and is incompatible with NATO systems.

Turkey, however, counters that the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance.

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