Forces loyal to Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar said Saturday they had seized a Turkish ship to search its cargo, hours after the Turkish parliament approved a security and military cooperation deal with Libya.
Ankara signed the agreement with the UN-recognised Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) just weeks after concluding a controversial deal on maritime jurisdiction.
Haftar launched an offensive in April to seize Tripoli from fighters loyal to the GNA, the latest unrest in the North Africa country since a NATO-backed uprising ousted and killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.
The Turkish ship, registered in Grenada, was taken to the port of Ras al-Helal near the eastern city of Derna “to search and verify its cargo,” Ahmed al-Mesmari, the spokesman for Haftar’s forces, said in a statement.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Ankara is ready to send troops into Libya if requested by Tripoli. Ankara supports the GNA led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.
The latest Turkey-Libya memorandum of understanding also covers increased cooperation in the fields of intelligence, terrorism, the defence industry and migration.
Haftar had in June threatened to attack Turkish interests in Libya, accusing Ankara of backing its rivals.