Turkey military runs drill in east Mediterranean ‘show of force’

Eight frigates and corvettes participated, along with 17 planes that flew from Eskisehir, central Turkey on a 2,000-km (1,250-mile) round trip. (File)
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Updated 12 June 2020

Turkey military runs drill in east Mediterranean ‘show of force’

  • The drill, which lasted for eight hours Thursday, was dubbed an “Open Sea Training” exercise by the ministry in a statement that did not mention Libya directly
  • The exercise came as tensions grow in the eastern Mediterranean owing to the conflict in Libya, and a dispute with Cyprus and Greece over offshore hydrocarbon resources

ANKARA: Turkey’s military conducted an air and naval exercise in the eastern Mediterranean, its defense ministry said Friday, in an apparent show of force linked to the Libyan conflict.
The drill, which lasted for eight hours Thursday, was dubbed an “Open Sea Training” exercise by the ministry in a statement that did not mention Libya directly.
Eight frigates and corvettes participated, along with 17 planes that flew from Eskisehir, central Turkey on a 2,000-km (1,250-mile) round trip, it said.
The private NTV broadcaster said the exercise was held in Libyan waters but did not offer any explanation.
The defense ministry reported that the exercise was “conducted successfully,” sharing photographs and videos of the F-16 fighter jets and warships in action.
Turkish state news agency Anadolu dubbed the drill a “show of force.”
The exercise came as tensions grow in the eastern Mediterranean owing to the conflict in Libya, and a dispute with Cyprus and Greece over offshore hydrocarbon resources.
Turkey has already sent ships to search for oil and gas off the divided island of Cyprus.
Turkey backs the UN-recognized Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, which has been under attack by military strongman Khalifa Haftar since April 2019.
Haftar is supported by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, with whom Turkey’s relations are strained, as well as by Russia.
Momentum in the conflict changed after Ankara sent Syrian fighters, drones and military advisers to Libya after signing maritime and security agreements with Tripoli.
GNA forces have in recent weeks recaptured outposts in western Libya that had been seized by pro-Haftar loyalists, who then tried to march on the capital.
On Wednesday, a Turkish warship prevented a new EU naval mission enforcing the Libya arms embargo from checking a suspect freighter off the war-torn country’s coast.
Turkish pro-government daily Yeni Safak reported Friday that Ankara could set up two bases in Libya, one southwest of Tripoli at Al-Watiya that would host drones and the other in the port city of Misrata.


Iraqis mourn expert on armed groups killed by unknown gunmen

Updated 12 min 16 sec ago

Iraqis mourn expert on armed groups killed by unknown gunmen

  • Gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on Hisham Al-Hashimi outside his home in the Zeyouneh area of Baghdad
  • Al-Hashimi was a well-connected security analyst

BAGHDAD: Iraqi mourners and relatives on Tuesday carried the body of a respected analyst shot and killed the previous night in Baghdad after receiving threats from Iran-backed militias. Many Iraqis expressed their shock over the slaying.
Hisham Al-Hashimi, 47, was gunned down on Monday night outside his home in Baghdad’s Zeyouneh neighborhood. His casket, draped in the Iraqi flag, was taken to his family home before being driven to the burial site.
Al-Hashimi, a leading expert on Daesh and other militant organization, was a regular fixture on Iraqi television and his expertise was often sought by government officials, journalists and researchers.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the killing, which comes weeks after he confided to close friends that he had received threats from militia groups. The slaying also coincides with a spate of rocket attacks targeting US interests that has been blamed on Iran-backed armed groups.
Authorities launched a raid last week in Baghdad, in which they detained 14 members of the powerful Kataib Hezbollah group, suspected of orchestrating the attacks. All but one detainees were released days later.
Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi said Iraqi security forces would “spare no effort” in pursuing Al-Hashimi’s killers.

Hours after Al-Hashimi’s killing, authorities fired the top police officer for Zeyouneh and launched an investigation into his activities, according to an order from the prime minister’s office, seen by The Associated Press.
Condemnations from Iraqi officials poured in as shock reverberated across the country at the news of Al-Hashimi’s killing.

Nechirvan Barzani, president of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq, said “authorities must find the perpetrators of this terror act and bring them to justice,” in a tweet on Tuesday.