Benghazi, Libya | AFP | Libya’s military strongman Khalifa Haftar has called on all Libyans to take up arms in response to a prospective military intervention from Turkey aimed at shoring up the UN-backed government in Tripoli.
The beleaguered Tripoli government, headed by Fayez al-Sarraj, has been under sustained attack since April by Haftar, who heads a rival administration in the east backed by Turkey’s regional rivals — Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
Turkey’s parliament on Thursday approved the deployment of troops to Libya after it received a request for military support from Sarraj’s elected government.
“We accept the challenge and declare jihad and a call to arms,” said Haftar in a televised address on Friday.
He urged “all Libyans” to bear arms, “men and women, soldiers and civilians, to defend our land and our honour”.
He said it was no longer a question of liberating Tripoli from the militias, but of “facing a coloniser”, accusing Ankara of wanting to “regain control of Libya”, a former province of the Ottoman Empire.
Libya has been beset by chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.