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Turkey’s lawmakers approve troop deployment to Libya

Turkey’s parliament approves military deployment to Libya, aimed at shoring up the UN-backed government in Tripoli, which has been under sustained attack since April by military strongman General Khalifa Haftar.

Parliament Speaker Mustafa Sentop said on Thursday that the legislation passed with a 325-184 vote. All important opposition parties in the assembly voted against the bill.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party and its allies hold a parliamentary majority. Parliament cut short its winter recess to address the ongoing developments in the Libyan capital, Tripoli.

Ahead of the crucial vote, Turkey’s Vice-President Fuat Oktay told state news agency Anadolu that no date had yet been set.

“We are ready. Our armed forces and our defense ministry are ready,” he said, adding that parliamentary approval would be valid for a year.

He described the parliament motion as a “political signal” aimed at deterring Haftar’s army.

“After it passes, if the other side changes its attitude and says, ‘OK, we are withdrawing, we are abandoning our offensive,’ then what should we go there for?”

In a Twitter post last week, Erdogan’s communications director Fahrettin Altun urged outside powers to stop meddling into Libya’s internal affairs.

“We’re supporting the internationally recognized legitimate government in Libya. Outside powers must stop supporting illegitimate groups against the Libyan government.”

President Erdogan said last month that Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA) requested the Turkish deployment after the two signed a military deal that allows Ankara to dispatch military experts and personnel to Libya.

The Tripoli-based government has been under sustained attack since April by eastern military commander General Haftar, who is backed by Turkey’s regional rivals — Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) launched an offensive in April, but their advances were brought to a standstill by pro-government troops along the city’s southern outskirts.