France says Turkey conduct in Libya 'unacceptable'

Members of security forces affiliated with the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA)'s Interior Ministry stand at a make-shift checkpoint in the town of Tarhuna, about 65 kilometres southeast of the capital Tripoli on June 11, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 14 June 2020

France says Turkey conduct in Libya 'unacceptable'

  • Paris is angered by an "even more aggressive and insistent stance from Turkey"
  • "The Turks are behaving in an unacceptable manner and are exploiting NATO" the French official said

PARIS: France on Sunday slammed Turkey's "aggressive" intervention in the Libya conflict as unacceptable, accusing its fellow NATO member of violating a UN arms embargo and sending half a dozen ships to the war-torn country's coast.
Turkey, supported by its main regional ally Qatar, backs the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli in the conflict against the forces of eastern Libya strongman Khalifa Haftar.
France, despite public denials, has long been suspected of favouring Haftar, who has the backing of Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.
Paris is angered by an "even more aggressive and insistent stance from Turkey, with seven Turkish ships deployed off the Libyan coast and violations of the arms embargo," a senior presidential official said.
"The Turks are behaving in an unacceptable manner and are exploiting NATO. France cannot just stand by," added the official, who asked not to be named.
French President Emmanuel Macron has already held talks on the issue this week with US leader Donald Trump, and "exchanges will take place in the weeks to come on this subject with NATO partners," the official said.
The comments came after a Turkish warship on Wednesday prevented a new EU naval mission enforcing the Libya arms embargo from checking a suspect freighter off the Libyan coast.
Turkey has sent Syrian fighters, military advisors and drones in support of the GNA, in a deployment which has changed the course of the conflict, with Haftar's forces enduring a string of defeats.
Tensions have risen over the last yeat between Macron and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, notably when the French leader said that the lack of NATO response to a unilateral Turkish operation in northern Syria showed that the alliance was undergoing "brain death".
Despite being on opposing sides of the conflict, some analysts think that Russia and Turkey may yet to find an accord for Libya as they did with Syria.
But Russia's foreign and defence ministers postponed a planned visit to Turkey on Sunday to discuss the Libya and Syria conflicts, without any clear reason being given.


Afghan government airstrikes kill 24 civilians – witnesses

Updated 16 min 15 sec ago

Afghan government airstrikes kill 24 civilians – witnesses

  • Sayed Ramazan in northern Kunduz province is Taliban controlled
  • Villagers say initial airstrike targeted a house belonging to a Taliban fighter

KABUL: Government airstrikes in the north of Afghanistan killed 24 civilians, including children, and wounded six others, witnesses told The Associated Press on Sunday.
The two witnesses contacted by the AP said that most of those killed in Saturday’s airstrikes, which struck the village of Sayed Ramazan in northern Kunduz province, were civilians. The Khanabad district in the province where the village is located is Taliban controlled.
The Afghan Defense Ministry, however, said the airstrikes killed 30 Taliban fighters, but added an investigation was being held into claims that civilians were among those killed.
The airstrikes come as Taliban and government-appointed negotiators are meeting for the first time in Qatar to discuss the future of Afghanistan and an end to decades of war and conflict.
Villagers said an initial airstrike targeted a house belonging to a Taliban fighter, whose home doubled as a check post that stops and frisks people to ensure they are not connected to the government. The explosion set fire to a nearby home, trapping a family inside, said Latif Rahmani who witnessed the airstrikes.
Speaking to the AP by phone, Rahmani said farmers and villagers ran to douse the fire and rescue trapped family members inside when a second airstrike hit, killing many of them.
Rahmani, who said he was working on his house at the time of the airstrike, warned his neighbors against running toward the burning buildings for fear of a second airstrike.
“I yelled at people and told them not to go because maybe there would be another bombing, but they ran to help and to put out the fire,” Rahmani said.
A second witness in the area, Kalamuddin, who like many Afghans uses just one name, said the lone Taliban fighter living in the house that was initially hit had been killed. He said five children were among the 24 civilians that had been killed.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid condemned the airstrikes and said the Taliban had no military operations in the area at the time of the airstrike.
The United Nations has harshly criticized both sides in the conflict for the relentless killing of civilians in Afghanistan’s protracted war.
The peace talks in Qatar are part of a US brokered deal with the Taliban that will eventually lead to US withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.
In early July, Afghan national army personnel fired mortars into a busy market in southern Helmand, killing 23 people. The Defense Ministry is still investigating the incident.
Also Saturday, at least six rockets were fired at NATO’s Resolute Support base in southern Kandahar. No casualties were reported and no one claimed responsibility. NATO said in a statement that if the Taliban were behind the rocket fire, it could jeopardize the US peace deal in which the Taliban have promised not to attack US and NATO forces.