The Address | Benghazi – Libya
ISTANBUL – Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, admitted publicly for the first time that his country was supplying military equipment to the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and its militant allies, thus violating the UN-imposed arms embargo on Libya.
During a rare two-hour discussion with intentional reporters inside a wing of the ornate Dolmabahce Palace along Istanbul’s Bosphorus Strait, Erdoğan said GNA and its militias have demanded that Turkey supply them with military hardware.
“In light of their demands, we offer them support, in exchange for compensation, of course,” he said in response to a question by a journalist from British newspaper The Independent.
He declined to detail the weaponry, but described the ministry of defense and the Turkish national intelligence agency as key players in the program.
“They had great troubles in defense equipment because they were unable to get any support from anywhere. With regard to the drones, for example, they have ensured a balance of power.”
In early June, the Libyan National Army (LNA), who is currently fighting GNA militias in Tripoli, had shot down two Turkish drones near Mitiga airport.
LNA Commander of the Western Operations, Major General Abdul Salam al-Hassi, had said that “Turkey is fighting the Libyan National Army by sending aircraft and armored vehicles to the illegitimate government”.
Prior to the recent conflict in Tripoli, customs authorities in the cities of Khoms and Misurata have seized, in multiple incidents, weapons and ammunition on-board cargo ships coming from Turkey.