ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey's defense ministry has said it is ready to retaliate against any attacks on Turkish vessels and interests by the forces of Libya's Khalifa Hifter.
Minister of Defense Hulusi Akar said Sunday there would be "heavy" consequences to any "hostile attitude or attacks."
The comments come after a spokesman for the self-styled Libyan National Army called Turkish assets in Libya "legitimate targets," accusing Turkey of helping rival militias allied with the U.N.-supported government.
Akar said Turkey was in Libya to support "regional peace and stability." His comments were carried by the official Anadolu news agency.
The LNA, led by Hifter, controls much of the country's east and south. It launched an offensive against the weak Tripoli-based government in April. The fighting threatens a new wave of violence in Libya.