Turkey says Hifter ‘regressing’ in Libya conflict

Photo: Credit Reuters/ Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attends a joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin (not pictured) following their talks in Moscow, Russia March 5, 2020. To match Special Report TURKEY-JUDGES/ Pavel Golovkin/Pool via REUTERS/

Turkey’s president said Monday that Libya’s eastern-based forces have entered a “regression” phase in the conflict with the U.N.-supported government in Tripoli, following a series of setbacks. Turkey heavily backs, including with military aid, the Tripoli government against eastern-based Libyan forces led by commander Khalifa Hifter.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed continued support for the U.N. backed government in Libya, speaking after a Cabinet meeting. “The pro-coup Hifter has entered a period of regression,” Erdogan said. “The efforts of the countries that have provided him with endless financial support and weapons will not be enough to save him.”

Hifter’s forces are backed by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia. For months his forces, bolstered by shipments of powerful missiles, jets and drones, held an advantage over the coalition of fractious militias while besieging the U.N.-supported government in Tripoli. But Turkey’s escalating military support for its Libyan allies has shifted momentum of the conflict.

Western Libyan forces have thwarted Hifter’s advances, recaptured coastal cities near the Tunisian border, attacked Hifter’s key western airbase and tightened their siege on his stronghold of Tarhuna. Last week, the U.N.-supported government rejected a unilateral cease-fire declared by Hifter’s forces for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, citing the collapse of past agreements.

Source: Associated Press