ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey on Wednesday condemned air strikes claimed by the Libyan government on an airport in Tripoli controlled by a rival administration, setting it at odds with the country’s internationally-recognized authorities.
Turkey appointed a special representative to Libya last month, who became the first envoy publicly to meet with the parallel government in Tripoli, fuelling suspicions that it is advancing a pro-Islamist regional agenda.
Turkish officials say the move is part of Ankara’s efforts to promote U.N.-backed peace negotiations.
“We strongly condemn the air strikes,” the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement. “These attacks deepen the existing problems in Libya and the atmosphere of conflict and scupper efforts to resolve the crisis by peaceful means.”
The ministry statement said the Libyan crisis could only be resolved with an end to foreign interventions, a ceasefire and comprehensive political dialogue, calling for all parties in the country to support the U.N. efforts.
Libya has descended into chaos three years after the toppling of strongman Muammar Gaddafi, with warring factions battling for control and the capital Tripoli run by an alternative government partly backed by Islamist groups.
Mitiga airport has been hit at least twice this week. Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni has said his government’s air force was responsible for the strikes on “Libya Dawn”, an armed group backing the rival administration.
Libya Dawn took over Tripoli in the summer, setting up its own government, taking over ministries, and forcing Thinni and the elected parliament to move to Tobruk, 1,000 km (600 miles) east of the North African oil producer’s capital.
Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Nick Tattersall and Ralph Boulton