Turkish navy commander visits Libya

Turkish Naval Forces Commander Adm. Adnan Ozbal has visited Tripoli as Ankara moves to strengthen its presence in the North African country with two military bases.

Ozbal met with Libyan Army’s Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Mohammed Al-Sharif, Anadolu news agency reports.

It is unclear when the visit occurred but sources told the news agency that the Turkish navy commander travelled to Libya at the directives of Turkish National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar.

Turkey has been militarily present in Libya since late last year. It backs UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), which has been resisting assaults by rebel General Khalifa Haftar, who is backed by the UAE, France, Egypt and Russia.

The GNA with the support of Turkish drones and military equipment managed last month to roll back Haftar’s advances and take over strategic positions.

The GNA is preparing an offensive to seize the city of Sirte from Haftar forces.

The city, hometown of former leader Muammar Gaddafi, reportedly hosts Russian mercenaries.
Ozbal’s visit comes amid talks between the GNA and Ankara for Turkey to establish two military bases in GNA controlled areas.

The future bases are namely Misrata naval base and Al Watiya air base located on the southern outskirt of capital Tripoli. Haftar lost the Al Watiya airbase last month after seizing it in 2014.

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