Turkey accuses France of dragging Libya into 'chaos'

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — A Turkish government spokesman shot back at French President Emmanuel Macron and blamed France on Tuesday for allegedly “dragging Libya into chaos.”

Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy accused Macron of “losing reason” and of making unfounded accusations against Turkey a day after the French leader said Ankara was involved in a “dangerous game” in Libya.

Macron also urged President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday to end Turkey's activities in the the conflict-torn country.

“Due to the support it has given to illegitimate structures for years, France has an important responsibility in dragging Libya into chaos, and in this respect, it is France that plays a dangerous game in Libya,” Aksoy said in a statement.

The comments referred to France’s support of Libya’s eastern-based forces, which under Khalifa Hifter launched an April 2019 offensive to try to take the capital of Tripoli.

Turkey backs the U.N.-recognized Tripoli-based administration in Libya. The Tripoli administration's forces, with Turkish military support, gained the upper hand in the war this month after retaking the capital’s airport, all main entrance and exit points to the city and a string of key nearby towns.

Aksoy added, “The people of Libya will never forget the damages France has inflicted on this country.”

The ministry spokesman also called on France to end steps that he said “put the security and future of Libya, Syria and the eastern Mediterranean under risk” and to enter into a dialogue with Turkey, a NATO ally.

Tensions between France and Turkey escalated following a June 10 incident between Turkish warships and a French naval vessel in the Mediterranean, which France considers a hostile act under NATO’s rules of engagement. Turkey has denied harassing the French frigate.

France accused Ankara of repeated violations of the U.N. arms embargo on Libya.

Libya has been in turmoil since 2011, when a NATO-backed uprising toppled leader Moammar Gadhafi, who was later killed.