Turkey may not send forces to Libya if conflict eases

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A Libyan woman carries a crossed out picture of Khalifa Haftar during a demonstration to demand an end to Khalifa Haftar’s offensive against Tripoli, in Martyrs’ Square in central Tripoli, Libya, on December 27, 2019. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey may hold off from sending troops to Libya if forces loyal to eastern commander Khalifa Haftar halt their offensive against the internationally recognised government in Tripoli and pull back, the Turkish vice president said on Wednesday.

The Turkish parliament is due to debate and vote on a bill mandating the deployment of military forces to Libya on Thursday after Fayez al-Serraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA) requested support as part of a military cooperation agreement.

“After the bill passed from the parliament…it might happen that we would see something different, a different stance and they would say “okay, we are withdrawing, dropping the offensive”,” Fuat Oktay said in an interview with Andalou news agency. “Then, why would we go there?”

Oktay also said that Ankara hoped the Turkish bill would send a deterrent message to the warring parties.

Ankara has already sent military supplies to the GNA despite a United Nations embargo, according to a U.N. report seen by Reuters, and has said it will continue to support it.

Haftar’s forces have received support from Russia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.

Writing by Ezgi Erkoyun, Editing by Angus MacSwan

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