A Turkish ship raided by putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar's forces off the Libyan coast was released from the Port of Ras al-Hilal on Thursday, five days after its seizure.
Haftar forces claimed late Monday to have intercepted a Turkish ship flying a Jamaican flag heading to the Port of Misrata in western Libya.
Turkey is the main foreign backer of the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in the west, which has for years been fighting Haftar's eastern-based militias.
The spokesperson of Haftar's forces, Ahmed al-Mismari, said that the commercial cargo ship, Mabrouka, had a crew of 17, including nine Turkish nationals, and was carrying containers that had not yet been inspected. LNA forces stopped the ship near the eastern port of Derna, he said.
The militia claims the ship entered a prohibited area and did not respond to calls before it was intercepted and brought to the Port of Ras al-Hilal.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Tuesday condemned the move and called for steps to allow the ship to follow its preplanned route.
The ministry said the incident took place due to the Haftar militias' aggressive actions, despite an ongoing United Nations effort toward a political process in the country.
Haftar's forces and the GNA signed a cease-fire deal in October, and the U.N. has been pushing for political dialogue aimed at elections next year as a solution to Libya's long-running conflict.
Since April 2019, Haftar's forces have launched attacks on Tripoli and other parts of northwestern Libya, resulting in more than 1,000 deaths, including civilians. Haftar has the support of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Russia, while the U.N.-recognized GNA is backed by Turkey and Qatar.
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